Phillip Chea received his A.B. in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology from Harvard College in May 2017 and is currently the lab manager for Dr. David Scadden’s laboratory. After joining in August 2016, he began his research on the metabolic plasticity of hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis. His interest in cancer metabolism began when learning that cancer cells undergo a dramatic change in metabolism, called the Warburg effect, where the cells produce energy using glycolysis instead of oxidative phosphorylation, despite the presence of excess oxygen. The reasons why cancer cells prefer a lower-energy efficient production method is still not well understood.
During his research, he discovered that leukemia cells depend on certain metabolic pathways in order to support a highly proliferative state and when these pathways are perturbed, leukemia cells struggle to survive. Currently, this project expanded into using high-throughput functional genomic data to identify and investigate multiple metabolic pathways that may be involved in the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and leukemia cells. He believes that a greater understanding of metabolic processes in cancer cells has the potential to improve current treatments in cancer therapy.
As a lab manager, Phillip is eager to expand his foundation in stem cell biology, conduct independent research, and apply his knowledge on his path of becoming a physician.