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Jian Xu, Ph.D., received his Ph.D. from UCLA with Dr. Stephen Smale, where he studied epigenetic regulation
of stem cell pluripotency. Upon completion of his Ph.D. training in 2008, he was awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation postdoctoral fellowship and joined Dr. Stuart Orkin’s laboratory in Boston Children’s Hospital, HHMI. In 2012, he became an Instructor in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology in Harvard Medical School. With Dr. Orkin, he made important discoveries towards understanding the clinically relevant fetal-to-adult developmental globin switch, and the functional genomics of blood stem cell development.

In 2014, Dr. Xu received a first-time investigator award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, and joined the faculty of UT Southwestern. Dr. Xu’s research focuses on the genetic and epigenetic basis of disease-associated gene networks in hematopoietic development and diseases.

Gene expression and cell fate decisions are controlled by both tissue-specific and broadly expressed transcription factors acting in concert with epigenetic regulators. Epigenetic alterations often drive the pathogenesis of human cancers. The lab of Dr. Xu seeks to determine the epigenetic and genetic basis of blood cell development and disorders, focusing on both single gene (‘micro’) and genomic (‘macro’) levels. By comparing the ontogeny of gene regulatory networks in normal and neoplastic hematopoiesis, the lab aims to understand how non-coding regulatory genome, lineage-specifying regulators, epigenetic modulators and environmental signals cooperate to control developmental potency, and how aberration lead to cancer development. These studies promise to not only advance our understanding of the context-specific roles of driver mutations in cancer pathogenesis, but also provide critical insights into developing novel therapeutic approaches for target-based cancer interventions.

Research Interest

  • Epigenetics and Chromatin
  • Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • Gene Expression and Regulation
  • Hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis
  • Non-Coding Regulatory Genome; Enhancers


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Honors & Awards

  • American Society of Hematology Scholar Award - Junior Faculty
  • CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research
  • New Investigator Award, American Cancer Society/UT Southwestern
  • NIH/NIDDK Career Development Award (K01)
  • American Society of Hematology (ASH) Merit Award
  • American Society of Hematology (ASH) Merit Award
  • Helen Hay Whitney Foundation-HHMI Post-Doctoral Fellowship
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • International Society of Experimental Hematology (2017)
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (2014)
  • American Society of Hematology (2008)