I am a cancer cell biologist focused on tumor suppression with strong interests in cell polarity, transcriptional target selection and cell fate determination. I strive to advance the development of the next generation of therapeutics to selectively kill cancer cells.
After earning my Masters Degree in China, I received a competitive research training fellowship from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. I then moved to the UK to complete my PhD and postdoctoral training, and established my own research group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. After successive promotions I became the Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London in 2004. In 2007, I moved the research activities to Oxford where we are based today. Ludwig Oxford’s focus is the identification and investigation of the molecular regulators of cancer progression and cellular heterogeneity, with the aim of translating our discoveries to benefit patients.
My research is focused on understanding tumor suppression. We were among the first researchers to show that the tumor suppressor protein p53 responds to both oncogene activation and DNA damaging signals. Subsequently, we investigated cross-talk between the p53 and Rb tumor suppressor pathways, demonstrating how alterations in the Rb pathway could sensitize tumor cells to p53-induced apoptosis. We also were one of the first groups to show how to selectively activate p53 to kill cancer cells through our identification and characterization of the evolutionarily conserved ASPP family of proteins. Our current studies are focused on investigating the potential of the ASPPs as biomarkers and targets for the development of novel anti-cancer therapies.
I have recruited and mentored many talented young investigators, and several former PhD students and postdoctoral Fellows have received appointments as hospital physicians and have received prestigious research fellowships from EMBO. Some now hold independent faculty positions in renowned institutions, including the NIH (USA), CNIO (Madrid), Barts and The London, and the University of Montpellier (France). I am also a Receiving Editor for Oncogene and a member of several prestigious scientific advisory, grant and prize-awarding boards.
PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, Imperial Cancer Research Fund and University College London, London, UK, 1991
MSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, Cancer Institute, Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China, 1985
BSc in Biochemistry, Sichuan University, China, 1982
Elected Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci), 2013
Supernumerary Fellowship, Magdalen College, Oxford, 2013
Elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, 2011
Elected Fellow of the Society of Biologists, UK, 2011
Elected Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath), UK, 2007
Ninth James Gibson Visiting Professor, University of Hong Kong, 2007
Young Cell Biologist of 1989, British Society for Cell Biology, UK. 1989
Research Training Fellowship Award, World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, 1986-1987