Dr. Deng's laboratory is interested in how cell-cell and cell-tissue microenvironment interactions are involved in normal development and how disruption of such interactions leads to tumorigenesis in the Drosophila model system. Current research projects in the Deng lab include: I. Characterization of “tumor hotspots” in Drosophila epithelial models; II. Postmitotic cell competition and compensatory cellular hypertrophy in Drosophila follicle cells; III. Notch mediated intercellular communication and cell cycle regulation and growth control; and IV. Mechanistic investigation of malignant rhabdoid childhood tumor using the Drosophila model.
Using the genetically tractable Drosophila model, Dr. Deng's research focuses on fundamental questions in cancer biology and developmental biology. The research topics range from understanding how tissue microenvironment contributes to neoplastic tumor transformation and progression to studying how growth and tissue homeostasis are regulated during development and tumorigenesis. The research in his laboratory has led to the development of novel concepts such as tissue “tumor hotspots” and “compensatory cellular hypertrophy,” and publications in high-impact journals. Dr. Deng has received continuous external funding and was awarded the University Developing Scholar Award in 2010 and the Pfeiffer Endowed Professorship for Cancer Research in 2018.
Dr. Deng has extensive experience in mentoring and teaching. Wu-Min was a recipient of the University Honors Mentoring Award in 2013. Among the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows trained in his lab, many have moved on to take faculty positions in various institutions. He has served as an ad hoc member on multiple NIH study sections, and on the editorial boards of Journal of Genetics and Genomics and Scientific Reports. In addition, he has served on numerous departmental and university committees, including the University Council on Research and Creativity, the University Senate, the Promotion and Tenure committee, the Chair Selection Committee, and the Rhodes Scholar committee.