Molecular Understanding and Immunotherapy of Metastatic Cancer

Know What Is This Cancer Immunotherapy And Why Is This Replacing Chemotherapy In Cancer Treatments

Principal Investigator

Xin Lu

Xin Lu, Ph.D.
John M. and Mary Jo Boler Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences
Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases
Harper Cancer Research Institute
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Associate Member, Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program
Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, 2017-Present

Phone: 574-631-6592 (office); 574-631-3960 (lab)


Brief Biography
  • John M. and Mary Jo Boler Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame, IN 2017-Present
  • Instructor, Department of Cancer Biology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 2014-2016
  • Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Cancer Biology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 2011-2014
  • Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 2010-2011
  • Ph.D. (Molecular Biology), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 2004-2010
  • B.S. (Biological Sciences), Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 2000-2004

Gold Line

Lab Manager/Research Assistant


Valentin Calvillo

Valentin performs essential housekeeping experiments and lab duties, and helps maintain the smooth running of the lab.

Gold Line

Postdoctoral Researchers

Tianhe Huang

Tianhe Huang

Tianhe is investigating prostate cancer from several angles. A liked quote: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish"

Tianhe Huang

Yun Zhao, PhD.

Yun Zhao’s research project is to perform an in-depth characterization of tumor-associated neutrophils (TAN) in metastatic breast cancer. By exploring some of the questions that have yet to be answered, he hopes to manipulate these TANs to combat metastatic breast cancer. His final career goal is to develop potential therapeutics to increase the survial of patients. His motto is “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well”.

Gold Line

Graduate Students


Guoqiang “Orson” Liu

Orson is a first-year Ph.D. student from IBMS program, rotating in the Lu lab. He devotes himself to investigating the mechanism of cancer progression and developing possible novel therapies for tumors. Now, he is specifically working on mechanism of androgen receptor(AR) inhibitor resistance and regulation of PD-L1 expression in prostate cancer by CRISPR screening.


Sean Murphy

Sean is a first-year BIOS Ph.D. student, rotating in the Lu lab. He is from Arlington, Indiana. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology from Wittenberg University he acquired a Masters of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University in Biotechnology while also working as a Research Technologist. His main interests include improving immunotherapy for cancer treatment as well as what role diet can play in treating and preventing cancer.

Lu Placeholder

Sharif Rahmy

An IBMS graduate student, Sharif identifies intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms underlying resistance to immune checkpoint blockade therapy.


Miaomiao Sun

BIOS graduate student in the Lu Lab. I am currently starting the project of mechanisms of VHL disease mutation in patient-derived fibroblasts


Meidan Wang

A BIOS graduate student from China. My interest in cancer research drove me here and doing research related to Cancer Immunotherapy. I love to exercise in the gym which makes me energetic every day, and now I'm trying to develop some interest in football because this is the coolest sport at the ND. Go IRISH!

Yuting Zhang

Yuting Zhang

Yuting Zhang is a first-year IBMS Ph.D. student, rotating in the Lu lab. Now she is focusing on using CRISPR screening to study mechanism of regulation of PD-L1 expression in prostate cancer. Also, she loves Chinese classical dance and folk dance.

Yini Zhu

Yini Zhu

Life is such a beauty, I love and admire it, it makes me crazy. An IBMS graduate student, my project now is creating a new mouse model to have a better knowledge of how the smart but bad tumor escape from immune system.

Gold Line

Research Visitors and Associates

X Wang

Xuechun Wang

Xuechun is a visiting PhD student from Tongji University.

Jiling Wen

Jiling Wen, M.D.

Jiling Wen is a visiting scholar from Tongji University. He is an urologist in China. He is interested in genitourinary neoplasms.

Gold Line

Undergraduate Students

Lu Placeholder

Louise Medina Bengtsson

Louise works on finding mechanisms of VHL disease.

Lu Placeholder

Yanting Luo

I am interested in the molecules of life, the ways they work together to work organisms minuscule and massive, and how, when a few molecules’ working mechanisms go awry, diseases are triggered. Having gathered some experience exploring the genes of embryogenesis in C. elegans and working on the genetic engineering to express circular RNA with EGFP, I delved into cancer biology in Dr. Susan Gursky’s group through a study of the synergistic growth inhibition of AKBA and curcumin in colorectal cancer. I am currently in Dr. Xin Lu’s lab researching the mechanisms of penile cancer as well as potential treatments that stem from the discoveries.


Jackson Mittlesteadt

I have a strong passion for biology and the study of how systems of the body work together, particularly those of the nervous system. In addition, I am interested in how the components of these systems and other systems of the body at times grow unchecked in the development of cancer. I seek to further my understanding of the biological processes underlying neurology and oncology in the hope of becoming a pediatric physician conducting research concerning how systems both function and fail. I am a junior studying Biology and English. I have the privilege of working in Dr. Xin Lu’s lab assisting with genotyping of mice and other housekeeping experiments with the hope of taking up a research project in the coming semester.

Billy Porter

Billy Porter

A freshman and Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar from Boston, Billy devotes himself to applying computer science in the field of medicine. He believes artificial intelligence not only lessens the limitations of sentient understanding but also can entirely replace humans, even experts, in many areas. With two previous years in experience conducting CyTOF research at Massachusetts General Hospital, Billy is currently in Dr. Xin Lu’s lab working with Sharif Rahmy to help statistically quantify and discover the reasoning behind the mechanisms regarding immune blockade therapy in a tumor microenvironment.

Gold Line


Postdoctoral Fellows
  • Fang Liu, Ph.D. (Mar – Oct 2018, co-mentored with Dr. Kasturi Haldar) Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow in Kasturi Haldar lab
  • Shan Feng, Ph.D. (2017-2018) Current position: Director, Mass Spectrometry Core Facility, School of Life Sciences, Westlake University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Graduate Students
  • Xi Cheng: Visiting PhD student 2018. Current position: physician scientist in Shanghai, China
Undergraduate students
  • Christian Frederickson (2019)
  • William Morgenlander (2018), Honors Program, Outstanding Biological Scientist Award 2018
  • Sam Arroyo (2018)
  • Xiao Han (exchange student from Sichuan University, 2018)
Lab Manager/Research Assistant
  • Seema Chaudhary (2017-2018)