Dr. Ching Lau takes on challenge to fight childhood cancer

Dr. Ching Lau of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine will serve as the United States lead on an initiative called “Smash Childhood Cancer". (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut School of Medicine pediatric cancer researcher Dr. Ching Lau will serve as the United States lead on an initiative called “Smash Childhood Cancer,” searching for compounds that will attack cancer cells in children.

Lau, who also works with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) and the Jackson Laboratory, alongside fellow team members from the University of Hong Kong, Chiba University, Kyoto University and others will make use of a cloud-based super computer that will aid greatly in advancing what tends to be a tedious research process, according to UConn Today

The super computer, provided by IBM, is called “The Community Grid,” harnesses computing power donated from volunteers worldwide. Users with a laptop or Android phone can download a toolkit called BOINC and have their device aid the processing power, according to UConn Today

IBM’s software does not slow down devices, but it monitors what users are doing and acts accordingly, according to the World Community Grid

With each device added, hundreds of theoretical compounds can be tested. Adding your device can help Lau and his research team get closer to finding the correct compounds.

In addition to fighting cancer, The Community Grid is being used to research the Zika virus, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and Ebola, according to the World Community Grid.  

“It [The Community Grid] is bringing us that much closer to finding the right drug for each type of cancer,” Lau said.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was present when Lau introduced the project and was very supportive of Lau and UConn’s efforts.

“We are bringing our state to the cutting-edge of disease research and treatment, and securing the jobs of the 21st Century right here at home,” Malloy said for UConn Today

“This kind of research expedites finding new treatments for childhood cancers,” Lau said. 

IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Stanley S. Litow said it is a pleasure to work with Connecticut on tackling childhood cancer around the world.

“It’s the volunteers who sign up coupled with innovative technology that can make the difference,” Litlow said.


Caesar Valentin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Caesar.valentin@uconn.edu.