Member Q+A - Dr Chih-Chien Chou

Today, we meet Chih-Chien, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Member Q+A - Dr Chih-Chien Chou

1. What is your full name, job title and where do you work?

Chih-Chien Chou, Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center.   

2. What are your main research interests?

My research mainly focuses on the relationship between ER stress and tumour microenvironment and understanding how the unfolding protein response (UPR) signalling facilitates the immunogenic cell death (ICD) in a variety of cancer types. We also propose combination of conventional chemotherapy and UPR inhibitors could improve anti-tumour immunity through ICD induction.

3. Describe your work in a tweet

A scientist is utilizing dendritic cell vaccines to provoke anti-tumour immunity for a long-term effect.

4. What big projects are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the effect of ER stress inducers on ICD induction in different genetic depletions of aggressive triplet negative breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. The genes we are interested in highly express and activate under ER stress. Based on CRISPR knockout experiments, we identified several potential cytokines which may play an important role in dendritic cell recruitment, maturation, and activation at tumour sites.

5. Who do you collaborate with?

I also collaborate with Dr. Billy W. Loo and Dr. Peter G. Maxim at Radiation Oncology, Stanford University. We currently establish the flash radiation therapy for small animals and compare to conventional radiation therapy from different angles of view, including normal tissue recovery, tumour suppression, and populations of local immune cells.

6. Tell us a bit about your career so far

I got my master degree of Biochemical Science from National Taiwan University in Taiwan in 2006. Then I obtained my Ph.D. degree of Medicinal Chemistry from Ohio State University in 2014, studying the anti-cancer effects of small molecules in different cancer types, including prostate and breast cancers. After that, I went to department of Radiation Oncology in Stanford University for my postdoc career for two years and helped my PI moved the whole lab to department of Radiation Oncology in MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2017.

7. What are you most proud of?

I am good at modifying experimental protocols to help my labmates and colleagues could follow these protocols to get better outcomes. Another thing is I have done so many works on smooth transition of our lab from Stanford University to MD Anderson Cancer Center. I realized that how difficult it is to go through all paper works from both sides and set up new lab in a new place. I think I will call those special experiences as my “pre-PI training” which helps me to establish my own lab in the future. 

8. What’s your interest in the Cancer-immune setpoint?

I think this idea is very creative and innovative. Scientists could not only share their research results but also give a broad view of potential anti-tumour mechanisms in the field of tumour immunology. I am looking forward to seeing how it works and pinpoint new anti-cancer strategies.

9. What do you hope it will achieve?

I hope with expanding of the cancer immune setpoint, it will create more collaboration cross the academic facilities, states, or even countries to accelerate the progress of immunotherapy.

10. What are your hopes for the future of cancer immunotherapy?

I hope we will be able to discover more critical immune-related molecules in cancer cells and have better understand how cancer cells utilize these molecules to escape from immune responses. Once we have good immune therapeutic strategies for cancers, we should think about the concept of precision medicine to customize the strategies for best outcomes.

11. What advice do you have for others working in the field?

Do not try to do all the works by yourself! We need more scientists with different background get involved and study together in this field. Sharing knowledge and research experiences in lab or in clinical will create more ideas and collaboration in order to help cancer patients eradicate cancer for better life.

12. What do you do to wind down?

Workout after work! I am not only a scientist who strives on exploring new avenues against cancer, but also a bodybuilder who dedicates on workout for healthier life. My life quote is “Exercise is cheaper than therapy!”

13. Tell us something unusual about yourself

I am a cat lover and I think they love me as well! I can easily get close to cats and they always allow me to touch them no matter how harsh they treat other people. Perhaps I can read cat’s mind!

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