Fan Chen grew up in a small city close to the Yangtze River. He went to school and obtained his M.D. degree from Shandong University College of Medicine, one of China’s top ten medical schools. Fan knew at a young age he wanted to be in the medical field after his paternal grandmother passed from gastric carcinoma and his maternal grandfather suffered with leukemia.
“It was part of my intrinsic impetus to become a medical student. And during my residency training in Urology Department, more and more questions came up, haunting me during my internship. Why does bladder cancer relapse more easily? Why does prostate cancer mainly metastasize to bones? Why does anti-androgenic treatment not work all the time in prostate cancer, and why does radiotherapy to the primary lesions have remote effect in the metastatic tumors? The only way to address these questions is basic research. So, to train myself to cope with real medical problems using scientific research, I decide to come to the United States to pursue further researching training.”
After applying to several universities and being accepted by several, Fan decided UK was his choice: the long list of research labs and the IBS Program being friendly to international drew him here. He currently participates in the Markey Research Day each year and the Precision Medicine Symposium of Markey Cancer Center.
While in Dr. Christine Brainson’s lab, Fan studies epigenetics in lung cancer targeted therapy. “Cancer epigenetics is the study of epigenetic modifications of gene function in cancer without changing the nucleotide sequence, including histone methylation. My projects mainly focus on Ezh2, the histone-lysine N-methyltransferase enzyme in lung cancer. Because EZH2 inhibitors are currently in clinical trials, understanding the roles of EZH2 in lung tumor initiation and progression is important. Besides, it is well-known that single therapy normally doesn’t perform very well due to the heterogeneity of cancer cells. So, I also study synergistic effects of Ezh2 inhibitors combined with some other drugs and aim to find out optimized drug combination of targeted therapies in lung cancer.”
When not in the lab you can find him at the tennis courts, or you may catch his photos as he loves to travel, including New York, Boston Vegas and Bermuda just this year.
Once Fan is done with his degree here he plans on becoming an oncologist back in China. His long term goal being to become a scientist-physician, using research experience combined with the clinical medical background to solve issues and problems concerning cancers. “I would love nothing more than to contribute new progresses and developments in cancer research and therapy, to train and influence future doctors and researchers, and to ultimately save or prolong the lives of lung cancer patients.”