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Cancer Biology Program Students

Xi Chen

Year you started the UC Denver Cancer Biology Program:


Why you chose the UC Denver Cancer Biology Program:

The Cancer Biology program is a great program. I like the way it is designed to cultivate a new generation of cancer research scientists. I like the curriculum and the many sources it can offer.

What labs you rotated in:

Edward N. Janoff

Mair Churchill

Shi-long Lu

What lab you joined and why:

I joined Dr. Shi-long Lu’s lab because I really like the projects that I worked on during my rotation. The people there are friendly and helpful.  We all feel like we are part of one a big family.

Short description of your project:

The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway is one of the pathways most commonly activated in many human malignancies. PIK3CA, which encodes a catalytic subunit of PI3-kinase, is frequently mutated in a range of human cancers, including head and neck cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and colorectal cancer. Reports and original studies have shown that genetic alteration of PIK3CA contribute to tumor initiation, invasion, and metastasis both in culture and in vivo. Although it is a current and advancing field, most previous work has not directly addressed the critical question as to the relationship between PIK3CA and cancer stemness and whether cancer stemness can be initiated by genetic alteration of PIK3CA, and as a functional consequence, contributing to the malignant phenotype. In my project, I aim to understand the role of PIK3CA in stemness of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas by using an inducible head-and-neck specific PIK3CA transgenic mice model.

Where you attended undergraduate and what your major / minor(s) were:

University of Denver,


What you like to do outside of school:

Design, tennis, and ski.

What is your favorite thing about Colorado?

It is really hard to state definitively my favorite thing as there are so many. However, I have been in Denver, Colorado for more than 5 years and I really like this city. I consider it as my second hometown.