Division of Precision Medicine

What we do

Precision medicine is an innovative approach that allows health care providers to tailor treatment and preventive intervention for the individual patient based on patients’ specific characteristics, including the genetic profile, microbiome composition, health history, and the lifestyle of each individual. At Woo center, we bring together data scientists, physicians, biological and engineering scientists to improve the outcome of cancer treatment through the application of cutting-edge precision medicine technologies (e.g. organoid culture, droplet organoid based rapid drug screening). The major focuses of this program include: 1) establishing an organoid biobank for multiple cancer types; 2) developing a rapid organoid therapeutic assay to pair the right therapy with the right patient at the right time; 3) facilitating the identification of novel drugs and the development of new therapeutics.

Example project:

  • Treatment strategy for patients living with colorectal cancer liver metastasis. The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility of using a Rapid Organoid Therapeutic Assay (ROTA) to guide oxaliplatin-based treatment for patients with colorectal cancer liver metastasis. Currently, patient-derived models of cancer (PDMC), such as cell lines, organoids, and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) are increasingly being accepted as “standard” preclinical models to facilitate the identification and development of new therapeutics. Upon completion of this project, we expect to assist the clinicians to pair the right therapy with the right patient at the right time and in doing so, lead to improved efficacy for patients while minimizing toxicity.

How to participate

The Woo Center works to improve health care through educational experiences, research projects, and entrepreneurial opportunities for Duke faculty and students in collaboration with clinical and industry partners worldwide.

The following are ways in which you can participate in this work:

Students

Students interested in gaining valuable experience in this Division are encouraged to forward your CV directly to the Lead Data Scientist. If there is an opportunity that matches your interests, you will be contacted for an interview.

Potential collaborators

Clinical staff within the Duke Health system with a potential project should complete the Contact form below, and include your name, department, contact details, and a description of your proposed project. The Woo Center is unfortunately unable to accept all proposals due to limited resources, but will select projects based on their greatest impact on health care and health care processes.

Contact Us

Meet the team

David Hsu | shiaowen.hsu@duke.edu
Division Co-Lead

David Hsu serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Hsu received his M.D., Ph.D. degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He completed an Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Duke University. After his fellowship in Hematology/Oncology, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Febbo where he used genomic strategies to study the biology and mechanism of metastatic adenocarcinoma and in particular colorectal cancer. His research now focuses on developing genomic strategies to improve prognosis and treatment of colorectal and other gastrointestinal malignancies. 

 

Yellen

Benjamin Yellen | yellen@duke.edu
Division Co-Lead

Benjamin Yellen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Dr. Yellen's lab focuses on developing highly parallel mechanisms for controlling the transport and assembly of ensembles of objects ranging from micron-sized colloidal particles to single cells. His research interests are the development of single cell analysis tools using magnetic circuits, and multiparticle assembly of colloidal crystals.

  

Zhaohui Wang | zhaohui.wang@duke.edu
Senior Scientist

Zhaohui Wang obtained his Ph.D. in molecular and biochemistry from the Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013. Prior to joining the DAP center as Executive Director, he was a Senior Research Associate at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, working to identify genetic alterations, establish pre-clinical glioma animal models, and develop novel targeted therapies for gliomas.  

At the DAP center, Dr. Wang's research primarily focuses on establishing patient-derived organoid cultures for multiple cancer types and developing droplet-based microfluidic rapid drug screening platform, with a strong translational potential to guide the personalized treatments for cancer patients.

 

Marcos Negrete Obando | marcos.negrete.obando@duke.edu
Technical Research Associate

Marcos is from Quito, Ecuador. He graduated from Zamorano University with a B.S. in Food Science. He works as a lab technician while conducting research alongside student and postdocs. His research interests include the development of organoids culture for different tumor types and isolation and culture of intestinal epithelial cells for 3D organoid culture. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, cooking and working out early morning. 

 

Jeff Motschman | jeff.motschman@duke.edu
Graduate Fellow

Jeff is currently a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and a Fellow in the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering. His research interests include developing microfluidic and optical instrumentation to improve the ways we conduct biological research. Utilizing automation and machine learning, he is developing high-throughput cell workflows for drug screening applications.