Willy Hugo, Ph.D.

A Short Biography:

Willy Hugo, PhD is currently an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, UCLA. He earned his Bachelor of Computer Science (2nd upper hons.) in 2002 and his PhD in Computational Biology from the National University of Singapore in 2011. He trained with Roger Lo in UCLA as a postdoctoral scholar in 2012, working on the mechanism of therapeutic resistance in melanoma. He is interested in the resistance mechanism(s) of cancer toward therapy and the accompanying induction of anticancer immunity.

Work Titles
UCLA Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dermatology

Contact Information:

Email Address:


Research Interest:

Dr. Hugo's PhD and postdoctoral work on computational biology and large “omic” cancer data sets have prepared him particularly well for a scientific career that capitalizes on the burgeoning informatics revolution in cancer research.  His work includes analyses of the genome, transcriptome, methylome, regulome and proteome of patient and melanoma models (murine, patient-derived xenografts, cell lines) to nominate and validate genes and pathways which affect melanoma's sensitivity/resistance toward targeted-, epigenetic- and immunotherapies. His current focus is on the development of techniques and analytical tools to dissect the genome/ epigenome of tumor cells and its associated microenvironments at single cell level.

His work ultimately aims towards translation of such knowledge to improve patient treatment outcome.

Dr. Hugo is currently recruiting postdoctoral trainee to join his team (last updated: 5/21/18). 


A selected list of publications:

Hugo Willy, Zaretsky Jesse M, Sun Lu, Song Chunying, Moreno Blanca Homet, Hu-Lieskovan Siwen, Berent-Maoz Beata, Pang Jia, Chmielowski Bartosz, Cherry Grace, Seja Elizabeth, Lomeli Shirley, Kong Xiangju, Kelley Mark C, Sosman Jeffrey A, Johnson Douglas B, Ribas Antoni, Lo Roger S   Genomic and Transcriptomic Features of Response to Anti-PD-1 Therapy in Metastatic Melanoma Cell, 2016; 165(1): 35-44.
Hugo Willy, Shi Hubing, Sun Lu, Piva Marco, Song Chunying, Kong Xiangju, Moriceau Gatien, Hong Aayoung, Dahlman Kimberly B, Johnson Douglas B, Sosman Jeffrey A, Ribas Antoni, Lo Roger S   Non-genomic and Immune Evolution of Melanoma Acquiring MAPKi Resistance Cell, 2015; 162(6): 1271-85.
Moriceau Gatien, Hugo Willy, Hong Aayoung, Shi Hubing, Kong Xiangju, Yu Clarissa C, Koya Richard C, Samatar Ahmed A, Khanlou Negar, Braun Jonathan, Ruchalski Kathleen, Seifert Heike, Larkin James, Dahlman Kimberly B, Johnson Douglas B, Algazi Alain, Sosman Jeffrey A, Ribas Antoni, Lo Roger S   Tunable-combinatorial mechanisms of acquired resistance limit the efficacy of BRAF/MEK cotargeting but result in melanoma drug addiction Cancer cell, 2015; 27(2): 240-56.
Shi Hubing, Hugo Willy, Kong Xiangju, Hong Aayoung, Koya Richard C, Moriceau Gatien, Chodon Thinle, Guo Rongqing, Johnson Douglas B, Dahlman Kimberly B, Kelley Mark C, Kefford Richard F, Chmielowski Bartosz, Glaspy John A, Sosman Jeffrey A, van Baren Nicolas, Long Georgina V, Ribas Antoni, Lo Roger S   Acquired resistance and clonal evolution in melanoma during BRAF inhibitor therapy Cancer discovery, 2014; 4(1): 80-93.
Shin Daniel Sanghoon, Zaretsky Jesse M, Escuin-Ordinas Helena, Garcia-Diaz Angel, Hu-Lieskovan Siwen, Kalbasi Anusha, Grasso Catherine S, Hugo Willy, Sandoval Salemiz, Torrejon Davis Y, Palaskas Nicolaos, Rodriguez Gabriel Abril, Parisi Giulia, Azhdam Ariel, Chmielowski Bartosz, Cherry Grace, Seja Elizabeth, Berent-Maoz Beata, Shintaku I Peter, Le Dung T, Pardoll Drew M, Diaz Luis A, Tumeh Paul C, Graeber Thomas G, Lo Roger S, Comin-Anduix Begoña, Ribas Antoni   Primary Resistance to PD-1 Blockade Mediated by JAK1/2 Mutations Cancer discovery, 2017; 7(2): 188-201.
Zaretsky Jesse M, Garcia-Diaz Angel, Shin Daniel S, Escuin-Ordinas Helena, Hugo Willy, Hu-Lieskovan Siwen, Torrejon Davis Y, Abril-Rodriguez Gabriel, Sandoval Salemiz, Barthly Lucas, Saco Justin, Homet Moreno Blanca, Mezzadra Riccardo, Chmielowski Bartosz, Ruchalski Kathleen, Shintaku I Peter, Sanchez Phillip J, Puig-Saus Cristina, Cherry Grace, Seja Elizabeth, Kong Xiangju, Pang Jia, Berent-Maoz Beata, Comin-Anduix Begoña, Graeber Thomas G, Tumeh Paul C, Schumacher Ton N M, Lo Roger S, Ribas Antoni   Mutations Associated with Acquired Resistance to PD-1 Blockade in Melanoma The New England journal of medicine, 2016; 375(9): 819-29.
Müller Judith, Krijgsman Oscar, Tsoi Jennifer, Robert Lidia, Hugo Willy, Song Chunying, Kong Xiangju, Possik Patricia A, Cornelissen-Steijger Paulien D M, Geukes Foppen Marnix H, Kemper Kristel, Goding Colin R, McDermott Ultan, Blank Christian, Haanen John, Graeber Thomas G, Ribas Antoni, Lo Roger S, Peeper Daniel S   Low MITF/AXL ratio predicts early resistance to multiple targeted drugs in melanoma Nature communications, 2014; 5(6): 5712.
Marusiak Anna A, Edwards Zoe C, Hugo Willy, Trotter Eleanor W, Girotti Maria R, Stephenson Natalie L, Kong Xiangju, Gartside Michael G, Fawdar Shameem, Hudson Andrew, Breitwieser Wolfgang, Hayward Nicholas K, Marais Richard, Lo Roger S, Brognard John   Mixed lineage kinases activate MEK independently of RAF to mediate resistance to RAF inhibitors Nature communications, 2014; 5(4): 3901.
Parmenter Tiffany J, Kleinschmidt Margarete, Kinross Kathryn M, Bond Simon T, Li Jason, Kaadige Mohan R, Rao Aparna, Sheppard Karen E, Hugo Willy, Pupo Gulietta M, Pearson Richard B, McGee Sean L, Long Georgina V, Scolyer Richard A, Rizos Helen, Lo Roger S, Cullinane Carleen, Ayer Donald E, Ribas Antoni, Johnstone Ricky W, Hicks Rodney J, McArthur Grant A   Response of BRAF-mutant melanoma to BRAF inhibition is mediated by a network of transcriptional regulators of glycolysis Cancer discovery, 2014; 4(4): 423-33.
Shi Hubing, Hong Aayoung, Kong Xiangju, Koya Richard C, Song Chunying, Moriceau Gatien, Hugo Willy, Yu Clarissa C, Ng Charles, Chodon Thinle, Scolyer Richard A, Kefford Richard F, Ribas Antoni, Long Georgina V, Lo Roger S   A novel AKT1 mutant amplifies an adaptive melanoma response to BRAF inhibition Cancer discovery, 2014; 4(1): 69-79.
Song Chunying, Piva Marco, Sun Lu, Hong Aayoung, Moriceau Gatien, Kong Xiangju, Zhang Hong, Lomeli Shirley, Qian Jin, Yu Clarissa C, Damoiseaux Robert, Kelley Mark C, Dahlman Kimberley B, Scumpia Philip O, Sosman Jeffrey A, Johnson Douglas B, Ribas Antoni, Hugo Willy, Lo Roger S   Recurrent Tumor Cell-Intrinsic and -Extrinsic Alterations during MAPKi-Induced Melanoma Regression and Early Adaptation Cancer discovery, 2017; 7(11): 1248-1265.
Hong Aayoung, Moriceau Gatien, Sun Lu, Lomeli Shirley, Piva Marco, Damoiseaux Robert, Holmen Sheri L, Sharpless Norman E, Hugo Willy, Lo Roger S   Exploiting Drug Addiction Mechanisms to Select against MAPKi-Resistant Melanoma Cancer discovery, 2018; 8(1): 74-93.
Garcia-Diaz Angel, Shin Daniel Sanghoon, Moreno Blanca Homet, Saco Justin, Escuin-Ordinas Helena, Rodriguez Gabriel Abril, Zaretsky Jesse M, Sun Lu, Hugo Willy, Wang Xiaoyan, Parisi Giulia, Saus Cristina Puig, Torrejon Davis Y, Graeber Thomas G, Comin-Anduix Begonya, Hu-Lieskovan Siwen, Damoiseaux Robert, Lo Roger S, Ribas Antoni   Interferon Receptor Signaling Pathways Regulating PD-L1 and PD-L2 Expression Cell reports, 2017; 19(6): 1189-1201.

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