Principal Investigators


Dr. Ly Vu — PhD


Admin Contact

Amanda Kotzer

Research Projects & Operations Leader
Research Interest
Lab Members
Open Positions

Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia

The overarching goal of our laboratory is to understand the control of stem cells in development and diseases. Our research group is focused on uncovering novel mechanisms of post-transcriptional and translational regulation during normal and malignant hematopoiesis. We aim to develop innovative therapeutic approaches targeting these regulatory pathways in cancer.

While disruption of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms and altered signaling networks are commonly studied, the role post-transcriptional and translational regulation in tumorigenesis has only recently recognized. We are particularly interested in defining the regulation of mRNA decay and translation mediated by poly(A) tail length and RNA deadenylation complexes in the context of normal and leukemia stem cells. Despite the central role of mRNA decay and poly(A) tails in regulating and coupling RNA metabolism and translation, it is virtually unknown how these processes contribute to drive and maintain the self-renewal and oncogenic gene expression programs in stem cells and cancer. Our work will provide insights into this largely unexplored area and enable development of new therapies. The laboratory employs human and mouse models; a broad range of molecular biology methods and a global approach using next generation sequencing techniques to decipher regulation of gene expression at multiple layers from transcription to mRNA biogenesis and translation.

Vu LP, Cheng Y, Kharas MG. The Biology of m6A RNA Methylation in Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis. Review. Cancer Discov. 2019 Jan;9(1):25-33.  View Abstract

Vu LP, Kharas MG. Targeting the residual Leukemia Cells after Chemotherapy. Preview. Cancer Cell. 2018 Sep 10;34(3):353-355. View Abstract

Vu LP*, Pickering BF*, Cheng Y*, Zaccara S, Nguyen D, Minuesa G, Chou T, Chow A, Saletore Y, MacKay M, Schulman J, Famulare C, Patel M, Klimek VM, Garrett-Bakelman FE, Melnick A, Carroll M, Mason CE, Jaffrey SR, Kharas MG. * authors contributed equally. Selected as Nature Medicine Cover; highlighted in Cancer Discovery The N6-methyladenosine (m6A)-forming enzyme METTL3 controls myeloid differentiation of normal and leukemia cells. Nature Medicine. 2017 Sep 18. View Abstract

Vu LP, Prieto C, Amin E, Minuesa G, Chhangawala S, Vidal MJ, Krivtsov A, Chou T, Barlowe T, Taggart J, Tivnan P, Deering RP, Gonen M, Figueroa M, Paietta E, Tallman MS, Melnick A, Levine RL, Fatima Al-Shahrour, Järås M, Chu L, Garippa R, Lengner C, Armstrong SA, Cowley G, Root D, Doench JG, Cerchietti L, Leslie C, Ebert B, Kharas MG.  MSI2 interactome screen reveals requirement for RNA binding protein SYNCRIP in myeloid leukemia stem cells. Nature Genetic. 2017 Jun;49(6):866-875. View Abstract

Greenblatt SM, Man N, Hamard PJ, Asai T, Karl D, Martinez C, Bilbao D, Stathais V, McGrew-Jermacowicz A, Duffort S, Tadi M, Blumenthal E, Newman S, Vu L, Xu Y, Liu F, Schurer SC, McCabe MT, Kruger RG, Xu M, Yang FC, Tenen D, Watts J, Vega F, Nimer SD.Cancer Cell. CARM1 Is Essential for Myeloid Leukemogenesis but Dispensable for Normal Hematopoiesis.2018 Jun 11;33(6):1111-1127.e5. View Abstract

Huber FM, Greenblatt SM, Davenport AM, Martinez C, Xu Y, Vu LP, Nimer SD, Hoelz A. Histone binding of DPF2 mediates its repressive role in myeloid differentiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jun 6;114(23):6016-6021.  View Abstract

Wang K, Sanchez-Martin M, Wang X, Knapp KM, Koche R, Vu L, Nahas MK, He J, Hadler M, Stein EM, Tallman MS, Donahue AL, Frampton GM, Lipson D, Roels S, Stephens PJ, Sanford EM, Brennan T, Otto GA, Yelensky R, Miller VA, Kharas MG, Levine RL, Ferrando A, Armstrong SA, Krivtsov AV. Patient-derived xenotransplants can recapitulate the genetic driver landscape of acute leukemias. Leukemia. 2016 Jul 1 (1):151-158. View Abstract

Taggart J, Ho T,Amin E, Xu H, Barlowe T, Perez AR, Durham B, Okabe R, Tivnan P, Chow A, Vu LP, Park SM, Prieto C, Famulare C, Lengner C, Patel M, Verma A, Roboz A, Guzman M, Klimek V, Abdel- Wahab O, Leslie C, Nimer S, Kharas. MSI2 is required for maintaining activated myelodysplastic syndrome stem cells. Nature Comms. 2016 Feb 22, 7:10739  View Abstract

Perna F, Vu LP, Themili M, Kriks S, Hoya-Arias R, Khanin R, Hricik T, Mansilla-Soto J, Papapetrou EP, Levin RL, Studer L, Sadelain M, Nimer SD. The Polycomb Group protein L3MBTL1 represses a SMAD5-mediated hematopoietic transcriptional program in human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Rep. 2015 Apr14; 4(4): 658-69.  View Abstract

Park SM, Gonen M, Vu L, Minusa G, Tivnan P, Barlowe TS, Taggart J, Lu Y, Deering RP, Hacohen N, Figueroa ME, Paietta E, Parnandez HF, Tallman MS, Melnick A, Levin R, Lesli C, Lengner CJ, Kharas MG. Musashi2 sustains the mixed-lineage leukemia-driven stem cell regulatory program. J Cli Invest. 2015 Mar 2; 125(2): 1286-98.  View Abstract

Vu LP, Perna F, Wang L, Voza F, Figueroa ME, Tempst P, Erdjument-Bromage H, Gao R, Chen S, Paietta E, Deblasio T, Melnick A, Liu Y, Zhao X, Nimer SD. PRMT4 blocks myeloid differentiation by assembling a methyl-RUNX1-dependent repressor complex. Cell Rep. 2013 Dec 26;5(6):1625-38. View Abstract

Vu LP, Luciani L, Nimer SD. Histone-modifying enzymes: their role in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia and their therapeutic potential. Int J Hematol. 2013 Feb;97(2):198-209.  View Abstract

Moulick K, Ahn JH, Zong H, Rodina A, Cerchietti L, Gomes DaGama EM, Caldas-Lopes E, Beebe K, Perna F, Hatzi K, Vu LP, Zhao X, Zatorska D, Taldone T, Smith-Jones P, Alpaugh M, Gross SS, Pillarsetty N, Ku T, Lewis JS, Larson SM, Levine R, Erdjument-Bromage H, Guzman ML, Nimer SD, Melnick A, Neckers L, Chiosis G. Affinity-based proteomics reveal cancer-specific networks coordinated by Hsp90. Nature Chem Biol. 2011 Sep 25;7(11):818-26. View Abstract

Wang L, Gural A, Sun XJ, Zhao X, Perna F, Huang G, Hatlen MA, Vu L, Liu F, Xu H, Asai T, Xu H, Deblasio T, Menendez S, Voza F, Jiang Y, Cole PA, Zhang J, Melnick A, Roeder RG, Nimer SD. The leukemogenicity of AML-ETO is dependent on site-specific lysine acetylation. Science. 2011 Aug 5;333 (6043):765-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1201662. PMID: 2176475Wang L, Huang G, Zhao X, Hatlen MA, Vu L, Liu F, Nimer SD. Post-translational modifications of Runx1 regulate its activity in cell. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2009 Jul-Aug; 43(1):30-4. View Abstract


The overarching goal of our laboratory is to understand the control of stem cells in development and diseases. Our research group is focused on uncovering novel mechanisms of post-transcriptional and translational regulation during normal and malignant hematopoiesis.  The highly competitive research plan encompasses of several largely supported projects involving the use of human and mouse models, primary patient samples of hematologic malignancies and cutting-edge technologies. By using animal models and genomic approaches for identification of novel translational regulators in leukemia (Vu et al. Nat Gen 2017Vu et al. Nat Med 2017), the Vu Lab investigates novel molecular mechanisms underpinning leukemogenesis and control of hematopoietic stem cells.  The Vu Lab has a strong interest and expertise in translational cancer research with several strong collaborations at major international institutions worldwide.

Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Associate – Temporary Full-Time

A Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Associate position is available in the Vu Lab based in the Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer, and the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University working on an exciting project investigating the role of translation control in pathogenesis of leukemia.

The successful candidate will have a PhD or MD/PhD degree (for Research Associate position: 3 years of postdoctoral experience). Knowledge and research experience in molecular and cell biology, stem cell/cancer biology; expertise in animal models and, in particular, hematology and leukemia, are assets. A strong background in RNA biology is highly desirable.

The applicant should also demonstrate the ability to work independently, supervise undergraduate students, conceive, initiate, organize and manage projects. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are a must as well as the ability to work in a team environment.

Research Student – Temporary Full-Time

We are seeking an outstanding, motivated student to assist our research efforts in normal and malignant hematopoiesis study.

Qualified candidates should have a bachelor degree in Life Sciences preferably in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology and working knowledge of lab skills and techniques such as pipetting, cell & tissue culture, PCR, RT-qPCR, RNA extraction, Western Blot, immunostaining & flow cytometry. Experience working with animal models is desirable.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

To Apply:

Please send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, a statement of areas of expertise and strengths and the names of three referees to

These positions will remain open until filled.