Sarah Lulu

Mentor: Dr. Jainrong Lu
College of Medicine
"As a child, I was fascinated by science shows like NOVA. At the time, stem-cells captured my imagination as the hopeful panacea against death and dying. One high school summer, I was fortunate enough to volunteer in a stem-cell oriented research laboratory. It was here, while counting the white blood cells of leukemia patients, that I discovered my passion for oncology. I went on to spend time at UF’s Cancer and Genetics Institute aiding in the search for understanding the transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of cancer."


Health Science



Research Interests

  • Tumor Biology
  • Epigenetics
  • Aging

Academic Awards

  • National Merit Finalist 2015
  • UF Honors Program 2015
  • Global Health Challenges Showcase, Original Song Composed in a Foreign Language 2015
  • University Scholars Program 2016


  • Coursera, Introduction to the Biology of Cancer (Mentor)
  • Golden Key Society


  • North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Million Veterans Program
  • North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Simulation Lab
  • EDEP Williams Elementary Afterschool Program

Hobbies and Interests

  • Archery
  • Gardening
  • Crafting
  • Playing the Flute, Piano, Saxophone, and Nose Harp

Research Description

Understanding Muscle Wasting: The Hidden Role of GDF-11 in Cancer Cachexia
Cachexia is a muscle-wasting syndrome and is often seen in end-stage cancer patients. Symptoms of cancer cachexia include progressive loss of body weight and skeletal muscle mass. Cachexia severely restricts treatment options for cancer patients, aggravates the side effects of chemotherapy, and reduces quality of life and patient survival GDF11, a member of the TGFβ superfamily, is highly expressed in a substantial subset of aggressive mesenchymal cancer cells. GDF11 is a negative regulator of muscle growth and regeneration, but its potential role in cancer and cachexia has not been investigated. Therapeutic strategies specifically targeting GDF11, such as GDF11 neutralizing antibodies, may represent a promising approach to treat cachexia and benefit cancer patients who suffer from muscle wasting and atrophy.