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I am currently a tenured full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a principal investigator of NIH-Sponsored Border Biomedical Research Center (BBRC) at The University of Texas at EL Paso (UTEP). My research career goal is to become a world-leading scientist in the field of cancer biomarker and cancer immunodiagnosis. I have focused my research career on the identification, characterization, and evaluation of tumor-associated antigens as biomarkers in cancer detection, and I have expertise in all the molecular, histo-pathological, immunological, and proteomic approaches proposed in this application for the cancer biomarker research. I joined Eng Tan’s lab at the Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA) at the end of 1995 for postdoctoral training on cancer autoimmunity research, and I left to take a faculty position in the Department of Biological Sciences at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) in December 2001. During this time, I have developed and completed several research projects. With serum antibodies from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), I was able to immunoscreen a cDNA expression library and isolate a cDNA encoding a 62 kDa protein (p62), which was further identified as a tumor-associated antigen [J. Exp. Med. 1999]. p62 is an IGF-2 mRNA binding protein and belongs to a new class of TAAs. This was an exciting finding because IGF-2 is a growth factor and overexpression had been shown before to be involved in promoting malignancy. p62 is thought to play a role in protecting IGF-2 mRNA from degradation, therefore more of the growth factor was being produced in cancer cells. Autoantibodies to p62 are present in 15-20% of patients with HCC and in a slightly lower but also significant frequency in many other human tumors. This finding has opened a new field of studies for understanding cancer biology and for cancer diagnosis. In a subsequent study, I identified another cDNA encoding an important TAA p90 [Oncogenes, 2002]. In the past 15 years, I have published over 80 papers on TAA-related research in peer-reviewed biomedical journals. In this field, I was well recognized by peers as one of the leaders. I was invited by several peer-reviewed Immunology journals to write reviews or comments in this TAA-related field (Autoimmunity Reviews 2002, 2007, 2011, 2014; Immunological Reviews 2008; Expert Rev. Mol. Diagn. 2010, 2015). I was also invited by Journal of Immunology Research as Lead Guest Editor to edit two special issues (2014, 2016) of the journal on "Cancer Immunodiagnosis and Cancer Immunotherapy". Based on the Google Scholar, some of my previous publications have been cited over 3600 times; h-index was 36, and i10-index was 68. see http://www.researcherid.com/rid/F-3798-2010).
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