SC CTSI’s KL2 Scholar Julie E. Lang, MD, FACS, associate professor of clinical surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC, came to USC with a strong background in clinical surgery and bench science but said the KL2 program has provided valuable training in statistical methods for clinical research.

She researches gene expression in circulating breast cancer cells, which are shed by tumors and travel through the bloodstream. Her lab collects the cells from research participants and uses sophisticated RNA sequencing techniques to determine what the circulating cells can reveal about their tumors of origin.

One of Lang’s projects is seeking to determine if capturing circulating tumor cells in the blood of stage four patients — those whose cancer has metastasized widely — can replace surgical biopsies when tumor location makes biopsies unpleasant or impossible. “The hope is to use circulating tumor cell biology to assess a patient’s response to therapy in real time,” said Lang. Since completing the program, she has received multiple foundation grants and a first-of-its kind contract with an international biotechnology company.

One of the most important skills in the KL2 training is grantsmanship - understanding how to convey the objectives of our research to reviewers who may specialize in different areas.

Julie E. Lang, MD, FACS – Associate professor of clinical surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.