Archived News | Return to News Center

March 28, 2013

National Cancer Institute funds ULM pharmacy professor’s breast cancer research

The National Cancer Institute awarded $310,045 to Yong-Yu Liu, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The grant will fund his “critically important” breast cancer research.

Liu, M.D., Ph.D., teaches in the Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences Department in ULM’s College of Pharmacy.

“This grant is critically important for cancer research because it helps us learn how cancer stem cells cause chemotherapy failure and how to target cancer stem cells to improve cancer treatments. This grant also creates a unique opportunity for training our students in the forefront of biomedical study.”

Liu’s long-term goal is to understand how cancer stem cells can be specifically manipulated for preventive and therapeutic purposes.

An increased number of cancer stem cells generates tumors and results in metastasis, all of which causes chemotherapy failure.

He wants to determine how anticancer drugs affect breast cancer stem cells during the course of chemotherapy.

Drug resistance of metastasized breast cancer causes treatment failure and claims approximately 40,500 women each year in America, Liu said.

“We know anticancer drugs can kill normal stem cells, such as bone marrow stem cells. This causes severe side effects. We still do not know how anticancer drugs affect cancer stem cells. The goal of this grant is to understand the association of cancer stem cells and learn the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of breast cancer stem cells,” Liu said. 

With research support from Louisiana Biomedical Research Network, the Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience, and the Louisiana Board of Regents, Liu has established a nationally recognized team and trained several young scientists for cancer research.

College of Pharmacy Dean Benny Blaylock, Ph.D., said Liu’s achievements are “vitally important” to human welfare.

"Dr. Liu continues to garner national and international recognition for his research dealing with cancer cell behavior and chemotherapy response. This latest award of extramural funding will allow him to continue this important line of research aimed at improving cancer chemotherapy outcomes by targeting cells that are, at least in part, responsible for chemotherapy failure. The College of Pharmacy is very proud of Dr. Liu's success in this vitally important area of human health outcomes."

Liu’s cancer research has also received financial support from Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence. Between 2006 and 2012, INBRE awarded Liu approximately $562,000.

ULM’s College of Pharmacy is the only state-supported pharmacy program in Louisiana.

To learn more, visit

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.