Gao Zhang
Assistant Professor in Neurosurgery

   It is my aspiration to build a translational cancer research  group that combines experimental biology and computational biology approaches to understand and overcome therapeutic resistance  and to eradicate brain metastasis  for patients with recurrent and metastatic diseases.  I aim to dissect and target various molecular mechanisms that (1) underlie both intrinsic and acquired resistance of metastatic tumors to first-line therapies, particularly focusing on molecularly targeted therapies and immune checkpoint blockade therapies and (2) mediate brain metastasis of primary tumors.  I will do this by using cancer genomicssystems biology ,computational biology  approaches, in vitro  and in vivo  systems, pre-clinical models and patients’ clinical specimens.  
   My research interests have been centered on understanding the interplay between tumor and the microenvironment that is responsible for mediating therapy resistance and facilitating brain metastasis.  Numerous pathways have been identified to date that underlie resistance to molecularly targeted therapies; however, the mechanisms by which tumor and the microenvironment cooperate to escape immune checkpoint blockade therapies are largely unknown.  Furthermore, it remains elusive how tumor plasticity and evolution contribute to brain metastasis and the identification of therapeutic vulnerability will be important in eradicating this devastating disease.  My short-term research goals are to understand the molecular basis for aberrant telomerase activity and mitochondrial metabolism and target them to overcome therapy resistance and to eliminate brain metastasis.  In the long term, I aim to identify tumor and liquid biomarkers that predict patients’ therapeutic responses, to design rationale-based therapies to overcome therapy resistance, to define tumor intrinsic and extrinsic pathways that lead to therapy resistance, and to investigate and target the interplay between therapy resistance and brain metastasis.  

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