Basic Medical School

Li Fu
School of Basic Medical Sciences

NAME: Fu, Li

POSITION TITLE: Professor, Director of Tumor Microenvironment Laboratory



Wuhan University School of Medicine    M.B.B.S          06/1998     Medicine
Wuhan, China
National University of Singapore            M.Sc.              04/2001     Endocrinology
The University of Hong Kong                 Ph.D.               11/2007     Cancer Genetics
Hong Kong, China
The University of Hong Kong                 Postdoctoral     09/2010     Cancer Biology
Hong Kong, China

A. Personal Statement
My research goal is to understand the mechanisms of initiation and progression of human cancers and find out new therapeutic targets for cancer treatment. I have formulated three research directions:
1. Molecular characterization of tumor and its microenvironment;
2. Cancer-stroma targeting therapeutic approach development;
3. Prognostic and predictive biomarker discovery and development.
Research in my lab has been continuously supported by the National Natural Science Foundation in China (NSFC), General Research Fund (GRF) of Hong Kong, and grants of Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Department since 2014. I have published 51 papers in the peer-reviewed international journals of the cancer research field (H-Index 19). I has obtained two China patents and also been awarded the Overseas High-level Talents Program by Shenzhen Government. I am currently mentoring 2 postdoctoral fellows and 2 MSc candidates.

B. Positions and Honors
Positions and Employment
04/01-09/04 Research Fellow, Tumor Virology/Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Singapore, Singapore
09/10-09/13 Research Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
09/13-09/14 Principle Investigator, State Key Laboratory of Digestive Diseases, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
09/14-present Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Research Center, Shenzhen University School of Medicine, Shenzhen, China

C. Representative publications (*: corresponding/co-corresponding author)
1. Molecular characterization of tumor microenvironment

Our group has been studying esophageal cancer microenvironment since 2008. Using cDNA microarray analyses, we identified the FGFR2 gene as the specific biomarker for cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC; Clin Cancer Res, 2009). We further revealed that FGFR2(+)CAFs secreted WNT2 supports the malignant progression of ESCC cells in a non-cell-autonomous. Also, we provided the first evidence that WNT2 was highly and specifically expressed in CAFs and may serve as a prognostic marker for ESCC patients (Gut, 2011). Current effort is focusing on studying the tumor-stroma interactions and developing molecular prognostic and therapeutic strategies towards ESCC.
1) Zhang C^, Fu L^, Fu J, Hu L, Yang H, Rong TH, Li Y, Liu H, Fu SB, Zeng YX, Guan XY. Fibroblast growth factor receptor 2-positive fibroblasts provide a suitable microenvironment for tumor development and progression in esophageal carcinoma. Clin Cancer Res 2009;15:4017-27.
2) Fu L, Zhang C, Zhang LY, Dong SS, Lu LH, Chen J, Dai YD, Li Y, Kwong DL, Guan XY. Wnt2 secreted by tumor fibroblasts promotes tumor progression in oesophageal cancer via the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Gut 2011;60:1635-43.
2. Identification and characterization of novel tumor markers
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and ESCC are two common fatal malignances in the Chinese population. Our previous studies have utilized genomic/proteomic approaches to identify novel tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes that could influence the development of HCC and ESCC. We have functionally characterized a panel of novel tumor markers and explored the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of both types of cancers. (Cancer Res, 2007; Hepatology, 2010; Clin Cancer Res, 2011; Carcinogenesis, 2016)
1) Fu L, Qin YR, Xie D, Hu L, Kwong D, Srivastava G, Tsao SW, Guan XY. Characterization of a novel tumor suppressor gene phospholipase C-δ1 at frequently deleted region 3p22 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer Res 2007;67:10720-6.
2) Fu L, Dong SS, Xie YW, Tai LS, Chen L, Kong KL, Man K, Xie D, Li Y, Cheng Y, Tao Q, Guan XY. Downregulation of tyrosine aminotransferase at a frequently deleted region 16q22 contributes to the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2010;51:1624-34.
3) Qin YR, Tang H, Xie FJ, Liu HB, Zhu YH, Chen L, Li Y, Kwong DL, Fu L*, Guan XY. Characterization of tumor-suppressive function of SOX6 in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Clin Cancer Res 2011;17:1-10.
4) Zhang LY, Wu JL, Qiu HB, Dong SS, Zhu YH, Lee VH, Qin YR, Li Y, Chen J, Liu HB, Bi J, Ma S, Guan XY, Fu L*. PSCA acts as a tumor suppressor by facilitating the nuclear translocation of RB1CC1 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Carcinogenesis 2016; (3):320-32.

D. Research Support
Ongoing Research Support
NSFC (China) general project (81372583) 01/01/2014 to 12/31/2017
Tumor fibroblasts secreted WNT2 as a novel therapeutic target in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
GRF (Hong Kong) general project (CUHK766613) 01/01/2014 to 12/31/2016
Li FU, PI HK$736,128
Characterization of WNT2 in the esophageal cancer microenvironment: prognostic and therapeutic implications
Shenzhen STIC key project (CXZZ20150430092951135) 08/15/2015-12/31/2017
Pre-clinical investigation of novel anti-tumor vaccines by targeting breast cancer stem cell


Tel: 86-755-86671992