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Asona Lui

Asona Lui portrait
2019 Graduate

Professional Background

Radiation Oncology Univ of San Diego Medical Center, LaJolla, CA. June 2020 -

Transitional Year - Bronx Care Health System, Bronx, NY June 2019 - June 2020

I have known since I was 10 years old growing up in Topeka, Kansas that I wanted to heal people. But, it wasn't until I discovered the laboratory that I realized scientific research best satisfied my need to ask the questions "why?" and "how?" In 2009 I graduated with a BA in African Studies and Pre-Medical Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where I had my first taste of research. In order to decide whether bench research was right for me I chose to conduct 2 full years of research in Chicago and ultimately received a Master's Degree in Biology from Chicago State University (CSU) in 2011.  My work on T-cell differentiation in the laboratories of my mentor Dr. Rong Lucy He at CSU and with our collaborator Dr. Richard Ye at The University of Illinois Chicago, confirmed that I wanted research to be a part of my future career. I discovered that while I still wanted to heal patients, I also wanted to change the lives of more people than the limited number I can see on a day-to-day basis in the clinic. As a result of this realization, I matriculated into the MD/PhD program at KUMC with the hopes of gaining a medical education and learning the skills needed to develop a lasting scientific career. At KUMC I discovered the laboratory of Dr. Lewis-Wambi. Dr. Lewis-Wambi is well-regarded in her field of aromatase inhibitor-resistant breast cancer research and her passion for her work is infectious. Resistance is a major clinical problem that affects 50-60% of breast cancer patients who are treated with traditional anti-hormonal therapies and sadly, the outcome for these patients is abysmal.

I have been able to combine my background in Immunology with my new found passion for Cancer Biology. My work in the lab has revealed for the first time that aromatase inhibitor (AI)-resistant breast cancer expresses a panel of interferon stimulated genes and rely on their expression to survive in estrogen-depleted conditions. I demonstrated that blockade of IFN signaling results in the death of AI-resistant breast cancer cells. This strategy could open the door for new, much less toxic, therapies for AI-resistant breast cancer. 

Mentor: Joan Lewis-Wambi, Ph.D., Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Received The Lawrence E. Lamb Prize for Medical Research.

KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
M.D.-Ph.D. Physician Scientist Program
Mail Stop 3062
1123 Delp Pavilion

3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, Kansas 66103