Ludwig Cancer Research launches new branch at Princeton University dedicated to cancer metabolism research

Ludwig Cancer Research announced the launch Tuesday of the newest branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, which will be based at Princeton University. The Ludwig Princeton branch will be dedicated to the study of cancer metabolism.

Ludwig Princeton will be directed by chemical biologist and cancer researcher Joshua Rabinowitz, a professor in the chemistry department and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at the university. Rabinowitz has made foundational contributions to the field of metabolomics, which is the large-scale, quantitative analysis of metabolite. He is a leader in the development and application of new technologies for the dynamic analysis of metabolic processes. His laboratory has applied this expertise to the dissection of cancer metabolism and is devising candidate cancer therapies based on the lab’s discoveries.

“A more sophisticated understanding of cancer metabolism holds considerable promise for the optimization of cancer prevention and therapy, yet few organizations have assembled a critical mass of experts dedicated exclusively to this promising frontier of research,” said Chi Van Dang, scientific director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. “The Ludwig Princeton branch will fill that gap by bringing together leading experts in cancer biology and metabolism, focusing their efforts on the most important questions of the field and supporting the translation of their discoveries for the benefit of cancer patients, which remains Ludwig’s top priority.”

Combined with Ludwig’s leadership in cancer epigenetics and immunotherapy, advances in cancer metabolism developed at the Ludwig Princeton branch will inform new strategies for cancer prevention and treatment. Clinical work related to branch discoveries will be conducted in the tri-state area, including in partnership with RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

The Ludwig Princeton branch will focus on three main areas of cancer metabolism: metabolic interactions between the tumor and the rest of the body, focusing on how the body supports tumor growth and metastasis, and how tumors induce cachexia; dietary strategies for the prevention and treatment of cancer; and the interplay of host metabolism, the gut microbiome and the anti-cancer immune response.

Chemical biologist and cancer researcher Joshua Rabinowitz. Photo by Kim Sokoloff.

“Every one of us chooses, day-by-day, what to eat,” said Rabinowitz. “These choices don’t just impact metabolic health, but also immunity and cancer risk. We want to understand the underlying biochemical mechanisms and apply this knowledge to find new ways to prevent and treat cancer. We want to push the technology frontiers, to enable new measurements that lay the foundation for new therapies, often with both diet and drug components. In this effort, we will draw broadly upon the creativity of Princeton’s students and faculty, adopt the quantitative and rigorous basic science approach that is the hallmark of the university and engage actively with our partners at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, other Ludwig branches and centers and beyond.”

In addition to Rabinowitz, who is also the director of the metabolomics shared resource at Rutgers Cancer Institute, two other scientists have been named founding Members of the Ludwig Princeton branch. Associate director Eileen White is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University, and Yibin Kang is a professor of molecular biology at Princeton University and associate director for consortium research at Rutgers Cancer Institute. Additional members will be recruited to Ludwig Princeton over the next few years.