Zachary Schug, Ph.D.

Zachary Schug, Ph.D.


The Schug Laboratory



Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, The Wistar Institute Cancer Center

About the Scientist

Schug is interested in investigating metabolic adaptation in cancer cells through the use of cell biology, biochemistry, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based lipidomics and metabolomics. 

After completing his B.S. in biology from Saint Joseph’s University, Schug continued his studies in Philadelphia and earned a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from Thomas Jefferson University. In 2008, he began his postdoctoral studies at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow, U.K. Schug joined The Wistar Institute in 2016 as an assistant professor. He also holds adjunct faculty positions in the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Drexel University.

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The Schug Laboratory

Alterations in the acquisition and metabolism of nutrients are now firmly recognized as hallmarks of cancer development. Many, if not all, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes induce metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells through changes in the regulation of enzymes and transporters. These changes are necessary for cancer cells to meet the combined biomass and energy demands for growth and are only satisfied by increased capture and synthesis of cellular building blocks such as sugars, fats, and proteins. In addition, cancer cells often invade other tissues where the availability of certain nutrients is drastically different or grow so quickly that the blood supply, and the accessibility to oxygen and other nutrients that comes with it, becomes scarce. During these conditions of nutrient stress, many cancer cells will adapt and use alternative available resources to survive.

The Schug laboratory is interested in identifying and therapeutically targeting the metabolic changes that arise during the development of cancer and metastasis. They combine cell biology, biochemistry, metabolomics, lipidomics and genomics to uncover novel metabolic vulnerabilities in cancer. These targets are then further developed for use as effective therapeutic strategies for the improved treatment of cancer patients.


Postdoctoral Fellow

Michael Hulse, Ph.D.
Katelyn Miller, Ph.D.

Research Assistant

Seamus O’Connor
Katherine Pniewski

Undergraduate Student

Sara Papp

Selected Publications

Casciano, J.C., Perry, C., Cohen-Nowak, A.J., Miller, K.D., Vande Voorde, J., Zhang, Q., Chalmers, S., Sandison, M.E., Liu, Q., Hedley, A., et al. "MYC regulates fatty acid metabolism through a multigenic program in claudin-low triple negative breast cancer." Br J Cancer. 2020 Jan 16. doi: 10.1038/s41416-019-0711-3.

Veglia, F., Tyurin, V.A., Blasi, M., De Leo, A., Kossenkov, A.V., Donthireddy, L., Schug, Z., Basu, S., Wang, F., Ricciotti, E., DiRusso, C., et al. “Fatty acid transport protein 2 reprograms neutrophils in cancer.” Nature. 2019 May;569(7754):73-78. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1118-2. Epub 2019 Apr 17.

Patel, S., Fu, S., Mastio, J., Dominguez, G.A., Purohit, A., Kossenkov, A., Lin, C., Alicea-Torres, K., Sehgal, M., Nefedova, Y., et al. "Unique pattern of neutrophil migration and function during tumor progression." Nat Immunol. 2018 Nov;19(11):1236-1247. doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0229-5. Epub 2018 Oct 15.

Schug, Z.T., Vande Voorde, J., Gottlieb, E. "The metabolic fate of acetate in cancer." Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Nov;16(11):708-717. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2016.87. Epub 2016 Aug 26.

Schug, Z.T., Peck, B., Jones, D.T., Zhang, Q., Grosskurth, S., Alam, I.S., Goodwin, L.M., Smethurst, E., Mason, S., Blyth, K., et al. "Acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 promotes acetate utilization and maintains cancer cell growth under metabolic stress." Cancer Cell. 2015 Jan 12;27(1):57-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2014.12.002.

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