Therese Vu, PhD
University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus
I obtained a double Bachelor’s degree in Science (honours) and IT at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. I developed an interest in medical research and undertook a PhD at QIMR Berghofer with A/Prof Steven Lane where I focussed on poorly understood mechanisms by which normal blood cells might become leukemia cells. I am interested in how leukemia cells evade conventional chemotherapy to re-initiate abnormal cell growth and cause leukemia relapse. I recently joined Prof Patricia Ernst at the University of Colorado in order to study this phenomenon in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), where I am looking at two important proteins (MLL and NOTCH). These proteins belong to different genetic classes, yet they may collaborate to cause chemotherapy-resistant T-ALL. Drugs that target NOTCH have already been developed for clinical use but they display high toxicity. In this project, MLL and NOTCH may be dual targeted using a novel drug combination with the aim of augmenting the efficacy of NOTCH inhibitors which will reduce the toxicity of that therapy.