Lu-Yao Research


Position: Professor

834 Chestnut Street
Suite 311
Philadelphia , PA 19107

Contact Number(s):

Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH, is a cancer epidemiologist with expertise in translational outcomes research. She has led several large clinical epidemiological studies, and her research findings have provided benchmark data that continue to influence prostate cancer treatment guidelines. Since joining Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center as an inaugural Associate Director of Population Science in 2016, Dr. Lu-Yao’s primary focus has been to conduct transdisciplinary integrated population science research that develops tools for informed shared decision making, promotes precision medicine, and improves the quality of cancer care delivery. 

In particular, Dr. Lu-Yao focuses on reducing health disparities and geriatric oncology. For example, her research aims to improve the outcomes of older patients with cancer and multiple comorbidities, who are often excluded from clinical trials.

Research Projects

Translational outcomes research

Dr. Lu-Yao’s primary focus is to improve the quality of cancer care delivery by conducting transdisciplinary integrated population science research and developing tools for real world care delivery. Translational outcomes research may translate the findings of outcomes research from the bench to bedside, implementing discovery in real world clinical or community settings. It can also go from the bedside to the bench—reverse translational research—using the underlying biological mechanisms of observed outcomes to identify new target pathways for future interventions. To address this, Dr. Lu-Yao recently received funding from ECOG-ACRIN for a project aimed to examine the outcomes of a lifestyle intervention in patients undergoing immunotherapy and changes in aging and immune-biomarkers related to physical activity. She co-leads this project with Drs. Johnson and Butryn.

Cancer Disparities

Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of male cancer death, and African American men die at a rate more than double that of men of any other race or ethnicity. Causes of this disparity are likely multi-factorial, including access to screening and treatment and biological differences.  Prostate cancer disparities are a major concern in our catchment area.

Drs. Lu-Yao and Kelly, working with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and several cancer centers across the nation, co-lead a P-20 pre-SPORE project that aims to impede cancer progression and avoid development of lethal disease by engaging inter-disciplinary collaboration in a ‘precision interception’ approach. Focusing on newly diagnosed patients, this approach uses knowledge of tumor molecular signatures, clinical data, and epidemiological data to interrupt prostate cancer before it becomes lethal to the patient or metastatic. The team recently submitted a P-50 SPORE grant proposal to address cancer disparities. 

Geriatric Oncology

Dr. Lu-Yao’s team has also been focused on unifying paradigm to accelerate evidence-based population approach to precision medicine, including predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory medicine.  The mission of this is to reduce cancer burden and disparities through discovering, developing, evaluating, and implementing evidence-based care among older adults to bring healing through tailored whole-person care. She is particularly interested in improving the outcomes of older patients with multiple comorbidities and cancer, who are often excluded from clinical trials.  Drs. Lu-Yao, Chapman, and DiMaria Ghalili co lead the SKCC Cells to Society Cancer and Aging Research Team.   Recently, her team published two articles about Polypharmacy in Older Adults with Cancer

Precision Medicine and Survivorship Research

Dr. Lu-Yao’s team is also currently focused on the outcomes of several novel targeted therapies, with special attention to populations that were understudied in pivotal clinical trials. Her team has focused on the use of immunosuppressive agents among patients receiving immunotherapy and subsequent outcomes. In addition, Dr. Lu-Yao’s lab is working closely with Dr. Yang’s lab to utilize data from liquid biopsy to guide treatment decisions and the collaboration has resulted in a submission of a multi-PI R01 entitled “Genomic profiling of single circulating tumor cells in the precision medicine of metastatic prostate cancer.”