Ruping Sun, PhD, Joins LMP, Masonic Cancer Center

August 27, 2019

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology announces the appointment of Ruping Sun to our faculty as an assistant professor effective August 31. Sun is a computational geneticist with a PhD degree in genetics who has been working as an Instructor at Stanford Medical School. His research focus will be on the translational genomics of solid tumors in conjunction with the Masonic Cancer Center.

Sun has developed considerable expertise in algorithm design and statistical analysis of (epi)genetic sequencing data, as well as in the computational modeling of cancer, such as gene regulatory circuits and cellular automata models. For example, he pioneered research linking intra-tumor heterogeneity with underlying tumor growth dynamics using a data-driven modeling approach of multi-region sequencing (MRS) of solid tumors. He also first introduced regional-assembly into fusion transcript prediction and identified CD74-NRG1 as a potential target of the deadly invasive mucinous subtype of lung cancer. The unique experiences and quantitative training have equipped Sun to initiate a team effort to computationally decompose and model tumor heterogeneity, connecting the multiple facets of tumor evolutionary patterns to clinical features. His group will innovate algorithms and computational methods that advance a mechanistic understanding of tumor evolution and that are broadly utilized by the cancer bioinformatics community.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms behind the initiation, clonal expansion and progression of human cancers requires collaborative teamwork, in Sun's view. Mentoring trainees and teaching courses is a particular interest of his. The future of the fast-moving field of cancer bioinformatics will depend on the ability of students to develop analytical skills and a broader mindset for critical thinking.

Sun earned his doctorate degree from the Institute of Genetics, Fudan University in Shanghai. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Computational Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, where he was subsequently a research associate. He then was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia University. Sun has been a research associate and subsequently an Instructor in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics, Stanford University since 2015.

Ruping Sun, Zheng Hu, Andrea Sottoriva, Trevor A Graham, Arbel Harpak, Zhicheng Ma, Jared M Fischer, Darryl Shibata & Christina Curtis, Between-region genetic divergence reflects the mode and tempo of tumor evolutionNature Genetics, 49: 1015–1024, 2017.

Lynnette Fernandez-Cuesta*, Ruping Sun*, Roopika Menon, Julie George, Susanne Lorenz, Leonardo A Meza-Zepeda, Martin Peifer, Dennis Plenker, Johannes M Heuckmann, Frauke Leenders, et. al., Identification of novel fusion genes in lung cancer using breakpoint assembly of transcriptome sequencing dataGenome Biology, 16(1): 7, 2015. (*: equal contribution)