I am a cancer cell biologist focused on tumor suppression with strong interests in cellular plasticity and selective transcription. I strive to advance early detection and prevention of cancer progression, and 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. Many groups in Ludwig Oxford are interested in the causes and consequences of tumor heterogeneity, and how we can use 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. We continue to investigate the ASPPs as potential biomarkers and targets for the development of novel anti-cancer therapies, and we are applying our knowledge of cell plasticity to address major challenges in upper gastrointestinal tract cancers.
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. Some now hold independent faculty positions, recently including positions at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China), University of Alberta (Canada) and the University of Southampton (UK). I am also a Receiving Editor for Oncogene and Cell Death and Differentiation, and a member of several 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