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Rengyun Liu: The Paul Ehrlich Research Award

My strong interest in pursuing science and persistent curiosity in exploring natural phenomena are a constant driving force for my motivation of effort in my research work.

Rengyun Liu

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Mentor: Mingzhao Xing

Project details

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Mingzhao Xing, I have been working on deciphering how genetic alterations contribute to thyroid tumorigenesis. We found that the genetic duet of BRAF and TERT promoter mutations identified the highest mortality risk in patients with papillary thyroid cancer and represented a robust molecular prognostic profile for this cancer. We explored the underlying molecular mechanism by focusing on the activation of mutant TERT by the BRAF V600E/MAP kinase pathway. We have demonstrated that in this process FOS, through acting as a novel transcriptional factor of GABPB promoter, increases the expression of GABPB, which in turn binds and activates the mutant TERT promoter. This functionally bridges the two oncogenes in cooperatively promoting oncogenesis, providing important cancer biological and clinical implications.

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?

I chose Johns Hopkins for two reasons: One, Johns Hopkins is a well-known research institution; Two, my adviser, Dr. Xing, is a leading scientist in the field of thyroid cancer.

What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?

Receiving this award is a wonderful honor for me, which means a lot to me both personally and professionally. I am extremely encouraged and motivated by this award to continue my vigorous effort to pursue a scientific career.

What contributed to your project’s success (special skills, interests, opportunities, guidance, etc.)?

My strong interest in pursuing science and persistent curiosity in exploring natural phenomena are a constant driving force for my motivation of effort in my research work. I am extremely grateful for the guidance and mentoring of my adviser, Dr. Xing, who teaches me to think critically and independently, gives me freedom to pursue my curiosity and provides me with strong support. I also benefit greatly from the wonderful relationship among all the lab members; their constant friendship, advice and support are indispensable to my success here in the lab. 

What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?

It provides a great opportunity for young investigators to share their works with the Johns Hopkins community and to interact with each other, ultimately encouraging all the young investigators to pursue their dream of a scientific career.

What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Johns Hopkins?

It is the wonderful relationship among the people around me and the friendship I received from them that will particularly last in my memory.

What are your plans over the next year or so? 

Having been trained here for nearly five years, I am now looking for a faculty position in a scientific research setting.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that makes you unique. Do you have any special hobbies, interests or life experiences?

I love to play guitar and watch NBA and soccer games. Now, the happiest thing I am enjoying is playing with my lovely 2-year-old daughter.