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Research: chromatin modification, histone, DNA methylation, epigenetics, cancer

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Pharmacology
(PhD – University of California, San Diego)


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


  • 2022 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Young Investigator Award
  • 2019 Yang Family Biomedical Scholars Award, UNC
  • 2019 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Scholarly and Artistic Achievement, UNC
  • 2018 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Scholar
  • 2017 Gilead Sciences Research Scholar, Gilead Inc. Scholars Program
  • 2016 American Cancer Society (ACS) Scholar
  • 2014-2015 Kimmel Scholar Award, Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 2014-2016 Janet D. Rowley Medical Research Award, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 2014 CONquer canCER Now! (Concern) Foundation Junior Faculty Award
  • 2014 Career Development Award, Department of Defense (DoD) & USA Army
  • 2014 Kimmel Scholar Award
  • 2013-2014 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Scholar Award in Basic Science
  • 2013 Jefferson Pilot Fellowships in Academic Medicine Award, UNC Medical School
  • 2011-2012 Martin D. Abeloff, MD V Scholar (top rating), the V Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 2010-2015 Howard Temin ‘Pathway to Independence’ Award in Cancer Research (K99/R00), NIH/NCI
  • 2008 Irvington Institute – Cancer Research Institute postdoctoral fellowship (declined)
  • 2008-2010 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Fellow Award (named as the John C. Newman Researcher of LLS)
  • 2007 C. H. Li Memorial Scholar Fund Scholar Award, the Rockefeller University
  • 2000 Union Medical Award, Fudan University Medical Center, China
  • 1994-1996 Undergraduate merit-based scholarship (People’s Fellowship), Fudan University, China


Our research interests focus broadly on the role for chromatin modification and epigenetic mechanism in gene regulation, development and disease, notably cancer. Our recent works in this broad field have shown that dysregulation of enzymes and effectors involved in histone and DNA methylation causally leads to gene expression deregulation and cancer development. We favor a general view that human disease including cancer often arises from dysregulation of an “epigenetic language” embedded in the genome, when it is mis-written, mis-erased or mis-interpreted. Currently, our laboratory employs cutting-edge techniques, which include CRISPR/cas9-based genomic editing, deep sequencing and small-molecule epigenetic inhibitors, to address issues relating to fundamentals of epigenetics and cancer therapeutics. Multiple on-going projects are (1) biochemical characterization of novel factors/complexes that read chromatin modification; (2) CRISPR/dCas9-based editing of epigenomic modifications for understanding their roles in gene function; (3) knockout and knock-in mouse models with deficiency in chromatin regulators in context of development and tumorigenesis; (4) epigenomic and transcriptome analyses (ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq) of normal versus cancer cells to delineate pathways essential for tumor growth.



  • Phone Numbers

    919-966-5952 (Office Phone)

  • 919-966-5953 (Lab Phone)

  • Address

    450 West Drive, CB# 7295

    (lab) 31-331 Lineberger Cancer Center

    (office) 31-327 Lineberger Cancer Center

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7260