STEM Shoutout: Dr. Lina Cui

UNM professor receives funding for long-term research on role of heparanase in various biological systems

Assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr Lina Cui, is the recipient of a $1.89M grant, known as the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators (R35) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Since her recruitment from Stanford to UNM in 2015, Dr. Cui has been leading a research lab of five postdoctoral fellows, five doctoral students, and six undergraduate researchers. Dr. Cui’s laboratory is focused on the chemistry and biology of heparanase, a key enzyme involved in the remodeling processes of  the extracellular matrix, which is related to an array of disease conditions such as inflammation and cancer.

Dr. Cui plans to build a research program that can study the role of heparanase using molecular imaging and novel chemical biology tools to be developed in the program.

“I am very grateful for the generous support from NIH. To better understand the role of heparanase, we need to have proper molecular tools,” she said. “The molecules we develop can visualize the activity of heparanase under various pathological conditions, thereby guiding our discovery in diagnostics and therapeutics for various diseases including cancer.”

The research is funded through July 2022.