ASCI / Young Physician-Scientist Awards, 2024

The Young Physician-Scientist Awards (YPSA) recognize physician-scientists who are early in their first faculty appointment and have made notable achievements in their research.

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Sydney X. Lu, MD, PhD
Stanford University School of Medicine
(Affiliation at the time of recognition)

About the awardee

Sydney Lu, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist and assistant professor, tenure-track, at Stanford University in the Division of Hematology. His PhD at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center focused on experimental models of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant and regulators of T cell function that separate graft-versus-host-disease from graft-versus-leukemia activity. After medical school at Stanford, he conducted postdoctoral research also at Memorial Sloan Kettering, focused on recurrent oncogenic mutations in RNA splicing factors. These include the genes SF3B1, SRSF2, U2AF1, and ZRSR2, which are mutated at high frequencies in certain myeloid neoplasms and other cancers. Investigations were centered on the pathophysiologic mechanisms of these mutations and novel therapeutic strategies. One aspect of this work led to a recently completed phase I/II clinical trial of one agent, E7820, in patients with relapsed myeloid leukemias (clinicaltrials.gov ID: NCT05024994). In a second aspect, Sydney demonstrated that small molecule inhibitors of RNA splicing can enhance the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade therapy against solid tumors in preclinical models.

These have led investigations in the Lu laboratory to converge at the intersection of RNA processing, hematopoiesis, and cancer biology. Sydney believes that understanding and manipulating RNA processing will emerge as an important therapeutic approach for cancer, disorders of hematopoiesis and immune dysfunction. The group uses molecular biology, genomics and animal disease models, in conjunction with studies of primary patient samples to probe therapeutic targets arising from alterations of RNA processing. The group continues to focus on myeloid leukemias, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and other cancers with prominent alterations of RNA processing, and investigates both cell-autonomous, as well as cell-heterologous (i.e. immune-based) treatment approaches. Sydney’s research has been recognized with grants and awards from ASCO, ASH, AACR, the Parker Institute, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Doris Duke Foundation, Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, and the NIH.