Three questions for Xiangshu Xiao

Xiangshu Xiao, Ph.D., is associate professor of physiology and pharmacology, OHSU School of Medicine.

September 4, 2015

Dr. Xiangshu Xiao

What projects are you currently working on and are there opportunities for fellow faculty to participate?

I am working in the general field of cancer chemical biology. In one project, we are developing small molecule inhibitors of CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein)-mediated gene transcription. In the other project, we are designing small molecules to bind nuclear lamins. In both of these projects, the proteins have been shown to be dysregulated in various cancers. Genetic ablation of the proteins have shown an anti-cancer effect and can overcome drug resistance. However, there were no known small molecules to target these proteins. In both cases, we have developed corresponding small molecule inhibitors that present robust anti-breast cancer activity. With these unique small molecule tools, we are also illuminating new functions of these proteins that would otherwise not easily be addressable.

What is the most important aspect of support that OHSU provides to you currently and how would you like this or other support to grow in the future?

The Department of Physiology and Pharmacology has been very supportive of my research programs. The recent School of Medicine’s pilot support to subsidize the cost at various Core Facilities is absolutely critical for me to develop a new project. I hope OHSU can expand this type of support to provide seed money for investigators to explore new lines of research. The seed money can be distributed in a way similar to NIH’s programmatic portfolio review. This explorative support often goes a long way despite the fact that not every adventure will yield a positive return.

A hypothetical: If you could have one tool that would solve a seemingly impenetrable problem in your work, what would it do? You have unlimited resources to design this tool, so think big. 

Seeing is believing. What I would like to have is a tool or imaging technique that allows us to see and quantify small molecules or drugs in living cells. At the same time, we can also see the macromolecular targets of the drugs. This is important to see drug-target engagement in living cells to determine the biological readouts we are looking at every day. Significant technology innovation and development are still required to achieve such a goal.

About Three Questions
This Q&A series features OHSU School of Medicine faculty members talking about their work with the goal of getting to know them and different areas across the school. View more