Hua Eleanor Yu

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Hua Eleanor Yu
Alma materColumbia University
AwardsHumboldt Research Award
Scientific career
FieldsCancer research
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan, Moffitt Cancer Center, Beckman Research Institute
External video
video icon “Meet Hua Yu, Ph.D.”, City of Hope

Hua Eleanor Yu is the inaugural Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Professor in tumor immunotherapy at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.[1] In addition, she co-leads the Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program at the City of Hope cancer center, with Dr. Peter P. Lee.[2] Dr. Yu's laboratory was the first to identify STAT3, a protein that helps to protect tumor cells from the immune system.[3][4][5][6] Her group is developing possible drug treatments using CpG-Stat3 siRNA to attack tumor cells in mice and humans.[7]


Yu is a niece of Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu.[8] Yu attended Columbia University, where she obtained her B.A. in biology in 1983, and her Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1988. From 1989 to 1992, she held a postdoctoral position in molecular biology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.[9]


Yu worked as a research scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan from 1994 to 1995, before joining the immunology program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. She remained there until 2005, when she became professor and associate chair of the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Duarte, California.[9] In 2013, she became the inaugural Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Professor in Tumor Immunotherapy.[1]


Yu and her team were the first to identify [as a critical regulator in processes influencing tumor cell growth and survival.[3][4][5] They examined activation of the STAT3 protein, and determined that it helps to create an environment supportive of the tumor cell, protecting it from nearby immune cells.[3][10]

By examining and understanding STAT3's role in tumor angiogenesis and immune evasion, they have also identified a possible molecular target for cancer therapy.[11] Stat3 siRNA is used to disable STAT3 production, while CpG binds to the tumor cells and stimulates immune cells. In this way, CpG-Stat3 siRNA can turn off the defense mechanism of cancerous cells and prompt the immune system to attack them.[12] Using mice as an animal model, Yu is studying the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme and B-cell lymphoma, particularly aggressive tumors that are resistant to standard forms of treatment.[12][13] As of 2013 trials with human patients were being planned.[14]

Internationally known, Yu has collaborated with Dr. Thomas Blankenstein at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and with Dr. Jie Liu at Fudan University, China.[15] Technologies developed in her laboratory and that of Dr. Andreas Herrmann at City of Hope are being used by a newly formed company, LA Cell, Inc., which hopes to develop cell-penetrating antibody therapies.[16]

Preliminary evidence also suggests that Stat3 may be linked to diabetes.[9]


In 2014, Yu received the Humboldt Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, granted to "academics, whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future."[17]


  1. ^ a b "City of Hope Receives Nearly $6.3 Million From Wilder Estate". Philanthropy News Digest. October 13, 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Immunotherapeutics (CI)". City of Hope. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Bronchud, Miguel H. (2008). Principles of molecular oncology (3rd ed.). Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. ISBN 978-1-59745-470-4. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b Yu, Hua; Kortylewski, Marcin; Pardoll, Drew (January 2007). "Crosstalk between cancer and immune cells: role of STAT3 in the tumour microenvironment". Nature Reviews Immunology. 7 (1): 41–51. doi:10.1038/nri1995. PMID 17186030. S2CID 20191132.
  5. ^ a b Yu, Hua; Pardoll, Drew; Jove, Richard (November 2009). "STATs in cancer inflammation and immunity: a leading role for STAT3". Nature Reviews Cancer. 9 (11): 798–809. doi:10.1038/nrc2734. PMC 4856025. PMID 19851315.
  6. ^ Joy, Darrin (October 4, 2014). "Cancer researcher's work on STAT3 protein gets international recognition". City of Hope. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  7. ^ Zhang, Q.; Hossain, D. M. S.; Nechaev, S.; Kozlowska, A.; Zhang, W.; Liu, Y.; Kowolik, C. M.; Swiderski, P.; Rossi, J. J.; Forman, S.; Pal, S.; Bhatia, R.; Raubitschek, A.; Yu, H.; Kortylewski, M. (3 January 2013). "TLR9-mediated siRNA delivery for targeting of normal and malignant human hematopoietic cells in vivo" (PDF). Blood. 121 (8): 1304–1315. doi:10.1182/blood-2012-07-442590. PMC 3578952. PMID 23287859. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2015.
  8. ^ Pearce, Jeremy (March 12, 2007). "Tsai-Fan Yu, 95, Physician, Dies; Helped Alleviate Gout". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "Hua Yu, Ph.D." City of Hope. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  10. ^ Dranoff, Glenn (2011). Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-3-642-14136-2. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  11. ^ Yu, Hua E. "Role of Stat3 in modulating tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis". Grantome. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  12. ^ a b So, H. Chung (May 7, 2013). "$2.5 million grant from The Marcus Foundation funds clinical trials on aggressive cancers". City of Hope. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Marcus Foundation Awards $2.5 Million for Cancer Therapy Trials". Philanthropy News Digest. May 12, 2013.
  14. ^ Hall, Rachel (August 20, 2013). "Cancer: Advances in immunotherapy bring victory closer". City of Hope. Archived from the original on March 27, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  15. ^ "International Activities of NCI - Designated Cancer Centers" (PDF). National Cancer Institute. Centers for Global Health. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  16. ^ Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (September 28, 2015). "Sorrento Therapeutics And City Of Hope Announce Exclusive License To Develop First-In-Class Immunotherapies Against Intracellular Targets". PR Newswire. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  17. ^ Bachtler, Barbara (June 5, 2014). "Humboldt Research Award Granted to Cancer Researcher Hua Eleanor Yu". Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. Retrieved 4 November 2015.