Meet the Researchers

Julie Wu, MD

Staff Physician, Medical Oncology

Class of 2023

Medical oncologist with Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research and the VA National Oncology Program

Precision oncology integrating evidence-based models into clinical practice to personalize treatment approaches

Their Story

My professional long-term goal is to improve the outcomes of patients with lung cancer through translational bioinformatic research. As an undergraduate, my research career began with genetic screens to discover molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in infectious diseases. This, plus a background in biophysics, helped me gain a familiarity with manipulation of large data sets and statistics. I later applied these skills to my PhD research, which utilized genetic and biochemical screens to identify novel signaling components in neutrophil chemotaxis. During my residency and the first part of my fellowship, I have used my clinical background to inform my research. As a medical oncologist, I see patients weekly in my clinic, where I appreciate the complexities of medical decision-making in the wake of modern data-dense diagnostics and rapidly evolving treatment options. Through this project and the rest of my career, my goal is to gain an understanding of how to integrate evidence-based models into clinical practice to personalize treatment approaches for each tumor and each patient.

Grants Awarded

LCFA/BMS/IASLC Disparities in Clinical Research Grants

2023 LCFA/BMS/IASLC Disparities in Clinical Research Grant

About the LCFA-Funded Research

Despite treatment advances, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death. New therapies like immunotherapy, which activate the body’s own immune cells to fight against the cancer, are transforming patient outcomes. Immunotherapy responders with metastatic disease, or cancer that has spread to parts of the body outside the lung, are living longer to the point that some are considered “cured,” which was previously impossible.

However, only a minority respond to immunotherapy. Oncologists often add chemotherapy to immunotherapy to “prime the pump” for immunotherapy and increase chance of response. Oncologists don’t use universal chemoimmunotherapy as to minimize treatment toxicity and preserve chemotherapy for later-line use. As such, oncologists reserve first-line chemoimmunotherapy for those they think have a low chance of response, or if there is so much cancer that the patient may get too sick for more treatment if they don’t respond.

Published works