Di Zhao, Ph.D.
Di Zhao, Ph.D.
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Titles & Positions

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, Division of Basic Science Research

Institutional & Related Links



Grant Information

Grant ID: RR190021
Grant Mechanism: 
Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members
Recruited From: 
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Date Awarded: 
February 21, 2019
Grant Amount: 

Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in men in the U.S. after skin cancer. Those cancers that cannot be removed surgically are typically treated by hormone-depletion, but if the cancer becomes resistant to this therapy, it can metastasize or become difficult to treat.

One gene commonly mutated in prostate cancer has few therapeutic targets, but a researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is exploring how other genes in these cancers can be targeted instead. Di Zhao was recruited in 2019 to the department of experimental radiation oncology from the MD Anderson department of cancer biology, where she was a postdoctoral fellow.

Zhao says about 30% of prostate cancers have a deletion or mutation in a gene called PTEN that ordinarily functions to suppress the formation of tumors, and the percentage may be higher in cancers that have metastasized.

Researchers have had little success in targeting this gene directly, but Zhao is looking for other genes that become essential to keeping these cancer cells alive when the tumor-suppressor gene no longer functions. It may be easier to find a therapeutic target for one of those genes, and if the gene can be taken offline, the cancer cells may die.

Read More