Download Curriculum Vitae

Jian Xu received his Ph.D. with Dr. Stephen Smale from UCLA, where he studied epigenetic regulation of stem cell pluripotency. In 2008, he joined Dr. Stuart Orkin’s laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Helen Hay Whitney-HHMI postdoctoral fellow and studied the developmental control of fetal-to-adult hemoglobin switching. In 2012, he became an instructor in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Harvard Medical School. His studies with Dr. Orkin provide the first in vivo evidence that genetic inactivation of the zinc finger protein BCL11A is sufficient to ameliorate sickle cell disease in preclinical models, and lay the groundwork for ongoing development of gene therapies to target BCL11A for treating patients with inherited hemoglobin disorders. In 2014, Dr. Xu received a first-time investigator award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and joined the faculty of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern.


One of the fundamental questions in biology is how gene expression programs are established and maintained to control cell identity. Although we know diseases such as cancer and inherited blood disorders are the results of malfunctions in gene regulation, pinpointing the disease-causing genes and genetic regulatory elements remains difficult. Further complicating this is the epigenetic control of gene function which often contributes to disease pathophysiology.

Our goal is to better understand the gene regulatory processes that control stem cell development and cancers. We employ interdisciplinary approaches including molecular biology, genome engineering, disease modeling, single cell technology and computational biology to discover new mechanisms in gene regulation and genome sciences. By elucidating the basic principles of gene regulation in normal and neoplastic blood cell development, we seek to develop innovative strategies to precisely control gene function and advance diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of human disorders.

Xu Laboratory


Fudan University (2000), Biochemistry
Graduate School
Uni of California (UCLA) (2008), Molecular Biology

Research Interest

  • Epigenetic Regulation of Stem Cells and Cancers
  • Erythropoiesis and Hematopoiesis
  • Functional Genomics and Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression and Regulation
  • Metabolic Control of Hematopoiesis and Leukemia
  • Non-Coding Regulatory Genome


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Honors & Awards

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar
  • American Society of Hematology Scholar Award
  • 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)