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Research: Systems cancer biology and immunology, cancer therapeutic response, protein-protein interaction networks (interactomes), post-translational modifications, epigenetic regulation, signal transduction, disease marker discovery.

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Faculty Director, Quantitative Proteomics Center for Disease Marker Discovery
(PhD – Penn State University)

Trained Faculty Mentor endorsed by Office of Graduate Ed UNC Chapel Hill


  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 1999
  • Department of Energy Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 1999
  • The 2001 Patent & Licensing Awards, Los Alamos National Lab, 2002


Our research focuses on both developments and applications of unconventional and transformative technology of systems biology, novel mass spectrometry-based proteomics and proteogenomics approaches in particular, to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of various human diseases such as cancer, asthma, and immune disorders. We are interested in a broad range of signaling and epigenetic regulatory pathways/mechanisms underlying exactly how tumor cells escape from immune surveillance, but not limited to the Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated pathways and DNA damage response pathways. Our ultimate goal is to mechanistically derive novel, precise disease markers for early diagnosis and therapeutic intervention.

As the Director of Technology Development in UNC Proteomics Center, Dr. Chen has an innovative track record in developing an array of new proteomic and proteogenomic technologies for both discovery and clinical application in cancer biology and immunology. He is also the UNC PI of the NCI Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC). He has developed many novel MS-based quantitative proteomic methods; he invented amino acid-coded mass tagging (AACT) (a.k.a SILAC) that has unique strengths for comparative analysis of protein-protein interactions and post-translational protein modification. The Chen lab has demonstrated the unique strength of quantitative proteomics in dissecting and discovering new pathways involved in immune/inflammatory signaling and cancer epigenetic regulation.

PUBLICATIONS pubmed.png (click for Full Publication List)

  • Li Wang, Ling Xie, YuanYu Lee, Srinivas Ramachandran, Li Zhou, Zhen Yan, Krzysztof Krajewski, Feng Liu, Brian D. Strahl, Jian Jin, Nikolay V. Dokholyan, and Xian Chen* (2015) A non-canonical bromodomain module promotes DNA damage response and radioresistance through recognizing a radiation-inducible lysine acetylation. Chemistry & Biology (Cell Press), In press.
  • Cui Liu, Yanbao Yu, Feng Liu, John A. Wrobel, Li Zhou, Xin Wei, Harsha P. Gunawardena, Jian Jin, andXian Chen* (2014) A novel chromatin-activity-based protein complex pull-down approach reveals a chromatin complexome for systems regulation of gene-specific silencing. Nature Communications, 5, 5733, DOI:10.1038/ncomms6733
  • Ling Xie, Cui Liu, Li Wang, Harsha P. Gunawardena, Yanbao Yu, Ruyun Du, Debra J. Taxman, Penggao Dai, Zhen Yan, Jing Yu, Stephen P. Holly, Leslie V. Parise, Yisong Wan, Jenny P. Ting, and Xian Chen* (2013) Protein Phosphatase 2A Catalytic Subunit a (PP2Ac) Plays a MyD88-dependent, Central Role in the Gene-Specific Regulation of Endotoxin Tolerance (ET). Cell Reports, 3(3) 678-688.
  • Siwei Tang, Huimin Bao, Yang Zhang, Jun Yao, Pengyuan Yang, and Xian Chen* (2013) “14-3-3ε Mediates the Cell Fate Decision-making Pathways in Response of Hepatocellular Carcinoma to Bleomycin-induced DNA Damage” PLoS One, 8(3), e55268.
  • YuanYu Lee, YanBao Yu, Harsha P. Gunawardena, Ling Xie, and Xian Chen* (2012) BCLAF1 is a Radiation-induced H2AX-interacting Partner Involved in gH2AX-mediated Regulation of Apoptosis and DNA Repair, Cell Death & Disease (Nature Publishing Group), 3, e359.Lab Contact:
Lab Rooms: 3072 Genetic Medicine
Lab Phone: 919-966-7489
Fax: 919-966-2852
Xian Chen, PhD