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Denise A. Chan

Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in Residence
Department of Radiation Oncology

UCSF - Cancer Research Building
2340 Sutter St., Room S332
San Francisco, CA 94143-1331
Phone: (415) 476-8091
Fax: (415) 476-9069
Email: ChanD[at]RadOnc.ucsf.edu


Professional Focus

Developing the ideal targeted cancer therapeutic requires a detailed molecular understanding of the pathways involved.  The ideal targeted therapy specifically eradicates tumor cells, while sparing the normal tissue.  Because the rapid growth of cancer cells depends on their ability to maintain an abundant oxygen supply, this process provides an opportunity for developing targeted therapies.  Research in my lab focuses on the complex tumor microenvironment, specifically how cells sense and respond to low oxygen conditions, or hypoxia.  Hypoxia is both a hallmark of solid tumors and a predictor of poor prognosis.  It is therefore an attractive target to exploit.  Cells respond to hypoxia by increasing oxygen delivery or adapting to decreased oxygen availability.  The hypoxic response is largely mediated by a family of transcription factors, the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs).  The HIFs exquisitely regulates a variety of processes involved in oxygen homeostasis and are themselves tightly regulated by key upstream oxygen sensors, the prolyl hydroxylases, to prevent inappropriate hypoxic responses.  My work has focused on understanding the key upstream oxygen sensors, the prolyl hydroxylases.  Our broad goal is to dissect the molecular pathways regulating oxygen sensing with the ultimately leading to candidates for rational drug design based on HIF.