Mechanisms of Oncogenesis Program Co-Leaders

Lizi Wu, Ph.D.

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Lizi Wu, Ph.D.

Lizi Wu, Ph.D., is the program co-leader of the Mechanisms of Oncogenesis (MOO) program.

The Wu lab investigates the molecular basis of cancer that aims to uncover novel cancer diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Florida Department of Health and private foundations. She is active in teaching and mentoring trainees at all levels and has served on graduate admissions committees. Wu is an ad hoc reviewer for various grant agencies, including the NIH and multiple scientific journals, and an associate editor for the Molecular Therapy journal. She also serves on multiple committees, including the UF College of Medicine’s tenure and promotion committee, medical student interview committee and faculty council.

Daohong Zhou, M.D. 

Daohong Zhou, M.D.

Daohong Zhou, M.D., is program co-leader.

He is a professor in the Department of Pharmacodynamics at the College of Pharmacy and a Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the College of Medicine, University of Florida (UF) at Gainesville. He serves as the Associate Director for Translation and Drug Development and the Henry E. Innes Professorship of Cancer Research at the UF Health Cancer Center. Dr. Zhou received his medical (1978-1983) and graduate (1983-1986) training from Yunyany Medical College of Tongji Medical University and Henan Medical University, respectively; and his postdoctoral training (1990-1992) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Before he joined UF in 2018, he was a Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Deputy Director of the Division of Radiation Health at the College of Pharmacy and the Associate Director for Basic Research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Dr. Daohong Zhou has published more than 150 peer reviewed scientific articles and book chapters. His research has been well supported by grants from various private and government funding agencies, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Dr. Daohong Zhou serves on several national and international peer review panels and as a reviewer for various scientific publications. He was a regular member of the Radiation Therapeutics and Biology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was a councilor of the Radiation Research Society. His group was the first to identify BCL-XL and BCL-2 as novel molecular targets in senescent cells (SnCs) and discovered ABT263 (a Bcl-2/xl-specific inhibitor) as the most potent broad-spectrum senolytic to date (Nat Med. 22: 78, 2016; cited >900). Based on these discoveries, he co-founded Unity Biotechnology (UBX on NASDAQ, https://unitybiotechnology.com/) which has initiated clinical studies in October 2020 using the novel BCL-XL and BCL-2 inhibitor UBX1325 to treat diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. In addition, he and his collaborator Dr. Guangrong Zheng generated the first platelet-sparing BCL-XL degrader by converting ABT263 into DT2216, a BCL-XL proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) that targets BCL-XL to the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ligase for degradation because VHL is poorly expressed in platelets. DT2216 holds promise as a safe first-in-class anticancer agent targeting BCL-XL and has obtained an FDA IND (1/15/21) and been advanced to phase I trials at the University of Texas Health San Antonio (UTHSA) Mays Cancer Center (MCC) (NCT04886622) sponsored by Dialectic Therapeutics (https://www.dtsciences.com/) co-founded by Drs. Zhou and Zheng.