Dr. Hu has been a tenured full professor in the Division of Oral and Systemic Health Sciences, and a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. He recently edited the Cancer metabolomics: Methods and Applications for Springer Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series.
We have demonstrated global, targeted and tracer based metabolomic methodologies for studying head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) as well as other diseases. Functional metabolomics analysis as well as integrated metabolomics/genomics analysis revealed significantly altered metabolic pathways in the cancer disease, including the dysregulated folate cycle. We then investigated the functional role of MTHFD1L, which is a key metabolic enzyme of folate cycle, in HNSCC. Our studies indicate that MTHFD1L promotes HNSCC tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, and correlates with the survival of HNSCC patients, suggesting that folate cycle and related metabolic enzymes may serve as therapeutic targets in HNSCC. In addition, we have applied mass spec-based metabolomics to studying the toxicity of nanomaterials and nanodrugs, and revealed the underlying metabolic mechanisms of nanomaterial-induced lung fibrosis. Our studies demonstrated that metabolomics is more sensitive and accurate than commonly used functional cellular assays for the assessment of nanotoxicity and the feasibility of using metabolomic signatures to understand and predict nanotoxicity in vivo.