University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Lani Wu, PhD

Lani Wu, PhD

Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF School of Pharmacy

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Experimental Therapeutics | Cancer Immunology

Research Summary

I have over 20 years of experience performing research and developing advanced technologies. I bring to my biology research a blend of experimental science, engineering, and mathematics. In 1994, I left a mathematics faculty position at Princeton to join the fledgling Research Division at Microsoft. At Microsoft I co-ran an advanced technology team (with Dr. Steven Altschuler) that worked on problems ranging from video compression, to data mining, to speech recognition. In 2000, I moved into biology. I was recruited by Rosetta Inpharmatics, where I developed new approaches for predicting gene function and mechanisms of drug perturbation. I moved to Harvard University in 2001 to immerse myself in the world of experimental biology and then to UTSW in 2005 to establish my independent laboratory. In 2014, I moved my laboratory to UCSF as a Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Over the past decade, my laboratory has pioneered multiple approaches for quantifying and interpreting cellular heterogeneity. I have been fascinated by the functional consequences of cell individuality in normal and diseased tissues. I was stunned by the phenotypic diversity that can arise both within and across cancer clones from a single patent population and can be used to predict mechanisms of drug action. Traditionally, this phenotypic heterogeneity, whether arising from microenvironment, epigenetic, or genetic sources, has been viewed as an impediment to understanding and treating cancer. I was therefore very surprised by our ability to use quantitative measurements of heterogeneity to predict drug responses. Since uncovering these results, my lab has been focused on identifying which components of cell-to-cell differences are unimportant and which contain functional information. Currently, my lab’s research program focuses on understanding the dynamic responses of cancer cells to drugs, and identifying molecular bases for drug resistance.

Education

National Taiwan University, BA, 1985, Mathematics
University of California, San Diego, MA, 1987, Mathematics
University of California, San Diego, PhD, 1990, Mathematics (Advisor: Dr. Richard Hamilton)


Professional Experience

  • 1990-1991
    Instructor, Mathematics Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.
  • 1991-1992
    Research Associate, Centre for Mathematics and its Applications, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
  • 1992-1994
    Instructor, Mathematics Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.
  • 1994-2000
    Senior Researcher, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA.
  • 2000-2001
    Senior Researcher, Informatics, Rosetta Inpharmatics, Kirkland, WA.
  • 2001-2005
    Fellow, Bauer Center for Genomics Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
  • 2005-2009
    Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
  • 2005-2014
    Associate Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.
  • 2014-present
    Professor, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Honors & Awards

  • 2004
    Thomas T. Hoopes Thesis Prize for best undergraduate thesis at Harvard (Maciag)
  • 2005
    UTSW endowed scholar: Cecil H. and Ida Green Scholar in Biomedical Computational Science
  • 2008
    Simmons Cancer Center Best Poster Award (Singh and Ku)
  • 2009
    Gilman Postdoc of the Year Award (Loo)
  • 2010
    UTSW Postdoc of the Year Award (Loo)

Selected Publications

  1. Rajaram S, Heinrich LE, Gordan JD, Avva J, Bonness KM, Witkiewicz AK, Malter JS, Atreya CE, Warren RS, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Sampling strategies to capture single-cell heterogeneity. Nat Methods. 2017 Sep 04.
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  2. Deb D, Rajaram S, Larsen JE, Dospoy PD, Marullo R, Li LS, Avila K, Xue F, Cerchietti L, Minna JD, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. Combination Therapy Targeting BCL6 and Phospho-STAT3 Defeats Intratumor Heterogeneity in a Subset of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers. Cancer Res. 2017 Jun 01; 77(11):3070-3081.
    View on PubMed
  3. Zhang ER, Liu S, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ, Cobb MH. Chemoattractant concentration-dependent tuning of ERK signaling dynamics in migrating neutrophils. Sci Signal. 2016 Dec 13; 9(458):ra122.
    View on PubMed
  4. Coster AD, Thorne CA, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Examining Crosstalk among Transforming Growth Factor ß, Bone Morphogenetic Protein, and Wnt Pathways. J Biol Chem. 2017 Jan 06; 292(1):244-250.
    View on PubMed
  5. Deng Y, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. PHOCOS: inferring multi-feature phenotypic crosstalk networks. Bioinformatics. 2016 Jun 15; 32(12):i44-i51.
    View on PubMed
  6. Diz-Muñoz A, Thurley K, Chintamen S, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF, Fletcher DA, Weiner OD. Membrane Tension Acts Through PLD2 and mTORC2 to Limit Actin Network Assembly During Neutrophil Migration. PLoS Biol. 2016 Jun; 14(6):e1002474.
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  7. Ramirez M, Rajaram S, Steininger RJ, Osipchuk D, Roth MA, Morinishi LS, Evans L, Ji W, Hsu CH, Thurley K, Wei S, Zhou A, Koduru PR, Posner BA, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Diverse drug-resistance mechanisms can emerge from drug-tolerant cancer persister cells. Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 19; 7:10690.
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  8. Langen M, Agi E, Altschuler DJ, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ, Hiesinger PR. The Developmental Rules of Neural Superposition in Drosophila. Cell. 2015 Jul 02; 162(1):120-33.
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  9. Wu J, Pipathsouk A, Keizer-Gunnink A, Fusetti F, Alkema W, Liu S, Altschuler S, Wu L, Kortholt A, Weiner OD. Homer3 regulates the establishment of neutrophil polarity. Mol Biol Cell. 2015 May 01; 26(9):1629-39.
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  10. Steininger RJ, Rajaram S, Girard L, Minna JD, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. On comparing heterogeneity across biomarkers. Cytometry A. 2015 Jun; 87(6):558-67.
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  11. Agi E, Langen M, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF, Zimmermann T, Hiesinger PR. The evolution and development of neural superposition. J Neurogenet. 2014 Sep-Dec; 28(3-4):216-32.
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  12. Coster AD, Wichaidit C, Rajaram S, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. A simple image correction method for high-throughput microscopy. Nat Methods. 2014 Jun; 11(6):602.
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  13. Pavie B, Rajaram S, Ouyang A, Altschuler JM, Steininger RJ, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Rapid analysis and exploration of fluorescence microscopy images. J Vis Exp. 2014 Mar 19; (85).
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  14. Wang Y, Ku CJ, Zhang ER, Artyukhin AB, Weiner OD, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Identifying network motifs that buffer front-to-back signaling in polarized neutrophils. Cell Rep. 2013 May 30; 3(5):1607-16.
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  15. Zhang ER, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. Envisioning migration: mathematics in both experimental analysis and modeling of cell behavior. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2013 Oct; 25(5):538-42.
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  16. Altschuler D.J., Altschuler S.J., Angenent S.B., Wu L.F. . The Zoo of Solitons for Curve Shortening in Rn. Nonlinearity. 2013; 26(5):1189-1226.
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  17. Rajaram S, Pavie B, Wu LF, Altschuler SJ. PhenoRipper: software for rapidly profiling microscopy images. Nat Methods. 2012 Jun 28; 9(7):635-7.
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  18. Rajaram S, Pavie B, Hac NE, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. SimuCell: a flexible framework for creating synthetic microscopy images. Nat Methods. 2012 Jun 28; 9(7):634-5.
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  19. Ku CJ, Wang Y, Weiner OD, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF. Network crosstalk dynamically changes during neutrophil polarization. Cell. 2012 May 25; 149(5):1073-83.
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  20. Orchard RC, Kittisopikul M, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF, Süel GM, Alto NM. Identification of F-actin as the dynamic hub in a microbial-induced GTPase polarity circuit. Cell. 2012 Feb 17; 148(4):803-15.
    View on PubMed

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