Lily Wu, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
  • Vice Chair and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
  • Professor, Pediatrics
  • Professor, Urology
Research Areas
A doctor in a whitecoat smiles for a headshot.

Lily Wu, M.D., PhD., seeks to develop therapies to prevent the lethal metastasis of epithelial cancers including those of the kidney, prostate and breast. She is also focused on advancing novel diagnostic approaches, as well as gene and immune cell-based treatments, for these diseases. 

A physician-scientist, Wu has made significant scientific contributions to the field of cancer research, developing gene therapy and diagnostic imaging approaches for prostate and breast cancers. In an effort to improve therapies for advanced metastatic prostate cancer, Wu has explored molecular engineering of adenoviral vectors to enhance in vivo gene delivery efficiency. 

Recognizing the urgent need for effective therapies, Wu’s recent work has focused on understanding kidney cancer progression and metastasis. Leveraging informative models and advanced molecular imaging, Wu explored the impact of the tumor microenvironment on cancer progression. Her findings revealed the therapeutic benefits of targeting tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells and macrophages in various cancers.

Wu is also investigating metastatic kidney cancer using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Her findings highlight the critical role of VHL and its downstream pathways in metastasis, revealing a novel mechanism where cooperation between heterogeneous tumor cells drives metastasis. Ongoing research aims to leverage insights from these studies to identify targets for therapies that prevent the lethal metastasis of kidney cancer and many other epithelial solid tumors.

  • Discovering the genetic and molecular mechanisms of cancer progression and metastasis
  • Understanding the cellular cross-communication that drives the spread of cancer to other parts of the body
  • Developing novel therapeutics to block and prevent metastatic progression in kidney cancer and other epithelial tumors
  • Investigating the efficacy of immune cell-based therapy CAR-iNKT to target CD70 kidney cancer cells
  • Developing and leveraging gene-based molecular imaging technologies to detect and visualize lymph node, lung and bone metastases of prostate and breast cancer


  • Hematology and Oncology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 1996


  • Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 1996


  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology, UCLA, 1989
  • M.D., UCLA, 1989