Chi  Van Dang, Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Chi Van Dang, Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Ludwig Cancer Research

Scientific Director

Expertise: Cell Metabolismcancer metabolism

As Scientific Director, Chi Van Dang oversees the execution of Ludwig’s scientific strategy to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, with a special focus on the operations and staffing of the Lausanne, Oxford and San Diego Branches of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He also works to align these efforts with those of the six independent Ludwig Centers across the U.S. to further cultivate collaboration within Ludwig’s global research community. Dang’s Ludwig laboratory is housed at The Wistar Institute, where he is also a professor.
Dang is best known for his elucidation of the molecular signaling pathways and mechanisms governing the unusual metabolism of cancer cells, which require vast quantities of energy and molecular supplies to sustain their wild proliferation. His laboratory was the first to show that a master regulator of gene expression named MYC—a gene whose mutation or aberrant expression is associated with many types of cancer—alters the utilization of a key sugar in cancer cells.

This body of work, which explained a hallmark of tumor metabolism known as the “Warburg effect”, bolstered the hypothesis that cancer cells can become addicted to their reengineered signaling pathways and dependent on particular nutrients. Dang and his colleagues have shown that disrupting those pathways could be a powerful approach to treating cancer and identified drug targets to that end. Therapies based on this work are today in various stages of clinical development.

Dang came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1967 and went on to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry from Georgetown University. Dang subsequently obtained an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University and completed a fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, before returning to Hopkins. There he rose to become Vice Dean for Research and Director of the Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering before moving on to direct the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. He was recently appointed to the Blue Ribbon panel that provided strategic guidance to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and currently chairs the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors."

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The area of cancer research that is most exciting to me right now is the emergence of tumor immunology. But, while its promising at the moment, we don’t quite understand when it works and when it doesn’t work.

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