Assistant Professor Zhaohui Wu of UTHSC Receives $720,000 Grant for Breast Cancer Research

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According to experts, breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. Among breast cancer patients, those diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive breast cancer subtype, have a lower survival rate, in part because there is a lack of effective targeted therapy.

Chemotherapy is the only available systemic treatment for TNBC. However, many TNBC patients rapidly develop resistance to the treatments. They also develop aggressive metastasis, which is responsible for the majority of the deaths caused by the cancer. Zhaohui Wu, MD, PhD, is exploring other options that could lead to a breakthrough in treatment.

Dr. Wu, an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), is now being
supported by a Research Scholar Grant, RSG-13-186-01-CSM, from the American Cancer Society. The four-year grant, which totals $720,000, will fund his study titled “Role of Genotoxic NF-kB Activation in Breast Cancer Metastasis.”

Previous studies conducted by Dr. Wu and his research team have indicated that the activation of a transcription factor or protein known as NF-kB by chemotherapeutic drugs may promote cancer therapy resistance and metastasis. His team is working to determine the factors responsible for that resistance. The research team is also exploring therapeutic regimens to effectively restore sensitivity of the breast cancer cells to chemotherapies and reduce secondary tumors.

“I am truly honored and grateful to receive this Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society,” said Dr. Wu. “This grant support allows us to further extend our exploration of novel molecular mechanisms involved in therapeutic resistance in breast cancer patients. We expect our study will translate into effective therapeutic regimens for treating breast cancer in the future.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the ACS has 12 chartered divisions, more than 900 offices nationwide, and a presence in more than 5,100 communities. For more information, visit

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