The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL), in concert with the academic units listed below, has recruited several senior cancer-focused researchers to build upon and expand the institute’s impressive foundation of expertise. These investigators will enhance the CCIL’s capabilities to impact the direction of our research programs and translational efforts, and their research illustrates the CCIL’s commitment to developing cancer care solutions that improve patient outcomes.

Bumsoo Han is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering and a Phil & Ann Sharp Scholar within the CCIL. Han was previously a program leader at the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research at Purdue University.

“My ultimate goal is to provide effective treatment solutions for cancer patients,” Han said. His research focuses on stroma tissue in pancreatic cancer. His team is investigating therapeutic strategies to reprogram the stroma, which can promote tumor growth and hinder drug delivery to tumor cells, using microfluidic tumor-stroma models.

Yang Liu has joined the university as a professor in the Department of Bioengineering. She previously worked at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center. Her work aims to guide personalized cancer care by developing multiscale optical microscopy techniques.

“I used to work at a traditional cancer center alongside cancer biologists. I am very excited to join this unique technology-focused cancer center here in Illinois and work alongside engineers,” said Liu. “I am enthusiastic about the potential to merge engineering innovations with biological discovery and patient care, believing that this interdisciplinary approach can lead to groundbreaking discoveries and improvements in how we understand and treat cancer.”

Samy Meroueh is departing the Indiana University School of Medicine for the University of Illinois, where he will be a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Illinois and a Phil & Ann Sharp Scholar within the CCIL. Meroueh was previously a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Meroueh’s laboratory develops small molecules to inhibit or degrade proteins that promote growth, metastasis, and immune suppression in tumors like pancreatic cancer. These tumors harbor a genetic mutation that keeps a protein known as KRAS always in its active state, which causes uncontrolled cell growth and cancer spread. His lab develops small molecules that either directly inhibit KRAS mutant activity by forming a chemical bond with the protein or use the cell’s machinery to eliminate proteins contributing to KRAS-driven tumors’ growth and metastasis.

Dr. Claudius Conrad has been recruited as the first joint strategic clinician-scientist faculty hire between the Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CI MED) and Carle Health in collaboration with the Cancer Center at Illinois. He joined CI MED from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston and was a Professor of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Conrad’s research includes working with industry partners to develop new surgical devices and improve imaging in the operating room with 3-D cameras and surgical instruments. He will start in mid-March and take on a leadership role in CCIL initiatives with Carle Health.

Editor’s notes:

Story written by Jessica Clegg, CCIL Marketing & Outreach Specialist