Liang Xu, Ph.D.

Director, Biological Irradiation Lab and Experimental and Preclinical Imaging Lab
Primary office:
Haworth Hall, room 4002


Liang Xu joined the University of Kansas in 2010.  Xu was appointed Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, KU Lawrence and the Department of Radiation Oncology, KU Medical Center.

In 2013, using funding from the Kansas Bioauthority (KBA) Rising Stars Program and funding from KU, Dr. Xu established the Biological Irradiation Laboratory and the Experimental and Preclinical Imaging Laboratory.  Prior to joining KU, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Dr. Xu's focus is in molecular therapy targeting cancer and cancer stem cells: novel miRNA-nanovectors targeting cancer stem cells and drug discovery for new small-molecule cancer therapeutics targeting apoptosis/autophagy and RNA binding proteins.

Dr. Xu earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China in 1992.  He did post-doc training in Europe, Stanford University and Georgetown University.

Representative Publications

  1. Marquez RT and Xu L.  Bcl-2:Beclin 1 complex: multiple mechanisms regulating autophagy/apoptosis toggle switch. Am J Cancer Res 2012; 2(2):214-221.
  2. Lian J, Ni Z, Dai X, Su C, Smith AR, Xu L, and He F.  Sorafenib sensitizes (-)-gossypol-induced growth suppression in androgen-independent prostate cancer cells via Mcl-1 inhibition and Bak activation. Mol Cancer Ther 2012; 11(2):416-426.
  3. Wu X, Li M, Tang W, Zheng Y, Lian J, Xu L, and Ji M.  Design, Synthesis, and In vitro Antitumor Activity Evaluation of Novel 4-pyrrylamino Quinazoline Derivatives. Chem Biol Drug Des 2011; 78(6):932-940.
  4. Dai Y, Desano J, Qu Y, Tang W, Meng Y, Lawrence TS, and Xu L.  Natural IAP inhibitor Embelin enhances therapeutic efficacy of ionizing radiation in prostate cancer. Am J Cancer Res 2011; 1(2):128-43. PMCID: 3144474.
  5. DeSano J, Lawrence TS and Xu L. MicroRNAs: Small but Critical Regulators of Cancer Stem Cells. In: Louise Laurent, ed., Cancer Stem Cells Theories and Practice. 2011. Chapter 15, p291-312. InTech.
  6. Pan X, Thompson R, Meng X, Wu D, and Xu L. Tumor-targeted RNA-interference: functional non-viral nanovectors. Am J Cancer Res 2011;1(1):32-49. (
  7. Lian J, Wu X, He F, Karnak D, Tang W, Meng Y, Xiang D, Ji M, Lawrence TS and Xu L. A natural BH3-mimetic induces autophagy in apoptosis-resistant prostate cancer via modulating Bcl-2—Beclin1 interaction at endoplasmic reticulum. Cell Death Diff  2011; 18(1):60-71. PMCID: 2950895
  8. Dai Y, DeSano J, Tang W, Meng X, Meng Y, Burstein E, Lawrence TS and Xu L. Natural Proteasome Inhibitor Celastrol Suppresses Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Progression by Modulating Apoptotic Proteins and NF-kappaB. PLoS One 2010; 5(12): e14153. PMCID: 3000808.
  9. Lian J, Karnak D and Xu L. The Bcl-2-Beclin 1 interaction in (-)-gossypol-induced autophagy versus apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Autophagy 2010; 6(8):1201-3.
  10. Wu X, Li M, Qu Y, Tang W, Zheng Y, Lian J, Ji M and Xu L. Design and synthesis of novel Gefitinib analogues with improved anti-tumor activity. Bioorg Med Chem 2010; 18(11):3812-3822.
  11. Karnak D and Xu L. Chemosensitization of prostate cancer by modulating Bcl-2 family proteins. Current Drug Targets 2010; 11(6):699-707.
  12. Ji Q, Karnak D, Hao P, Wang R and Xu L. No small matter: microRNAs -- key regulators of cancer stem cells. Int J Clin Exp Med 2010; 3(1):84-87. (PMCID: 2848309)
  13. DeSano TJ and Xu L. MicroRNA regulation of cancer stem cells and therapeutic implications. AAPS J 2009; 11(4):682-692. (PMID: 19842044)
  14. Jia L, He H, Zeng M, Yang J, Xiong X, Hao X, Xu L and Y Sun. Validation of SAG/RBX2/ROC2 E3 ubiquitin ligase as an anti-cancer and radio-sensitizing target. Clin Cancer Res 2010; 16(3):814-24. PMCID: 2819752.
  15. Dai Y, Liu M, Tang W, Li Y, Lian J, Lawrence TS and Xu L. A Smac-mimetic sensitizes prostate cancer cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis via modulating both IAPs and NF-kB. BMC Cancer 2009; 9:392. (Highly accessed) (PMID: 19895686)
  16. Ji Q, Hao X, Zhang M, Tang W, Meng Y, Li L, Xiang D, DeSano TJ, Bommer GT, Fan D, Fearon ER, Lawrence TS and Xu L. MicroRNA miR-34 inhibits human pancreatic cancer tumor-initiating cells. PLoS One 2009; 4(8): e6816. (PMID: 19714243)
  17. Dai Y, DeSano TJ, Meng Y, Ji Q, Ljungman M, Lawrence TS and Xu L. Celastrol potentiates radiation therapy via impairment of DNA damage processing in human prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2009; 74(4):1217-1225. (PMID: 19545787)
  18. Zhan Y, Jia G, Xu YS, Wu D, and Xu L. Design and synthesis of a gossypol derivative with improved antitumor activities. Arch Pharm 2009; 342:223-229.
  19. Dai Y, Liu M, Tang W, DeSano TJ, Burstein E, Pienta K, Lawrence TS and Xu L. Molecularly targeted radiosensitization of human prostate cancer by modulating IAP. Clin Cancer Res 2008; 14(23):7701-10. (PMID: 19047096)
  20. Ji Q, Hao X, Meng Y, Zhang M, DeSano J, Fan D and Xu L. Restoration of tumor suppressor miR-34 inhibits human p53-mutant gastric cancer tumorspheres. BMC Cancer 2008; 8(1):266. (Highly accessed) (PMID: 18803879)
  21. Abela RA, Qian J, Xu L, Lawrence TS and Zhang M. Radiation improves gene delivery by a novel transferrin-lipoplex nanoparticle selectively in cancer cells. Cancer Gene Ther 2008; 15(8):496-507. (PMID: 18483503)
  22. Meng Y, Tang W, Dai Y, Wu X, Liu M, Ji Q, Ji M, Pienta K, Lawrence TS and Xu L. Natural BH3-mimetic   (-)-gossypol chemosensitizes human prostate cancer via Bcl-xL inhibition accompanied by increase of Puma and Noxa. Mol Cancer Ther 2008; 7(7):2192-2202. (PMID: 18645028)
  23. Xu L, Yang D, Wang S, Tang W, Liu M, Davis M, Chen J, Rae JM, Lawrence TS and Lippman ME. (-)-Gossypol enhances response to radiation therapy and results in tumor regression of human prostate cancer. Mol Cancer Ther 2005; 4(2):197-205. (PMID: 15713891)
  24. Sun H, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Yang CY, Xu L, Liu M, Tomita Y, Pan H, Yoshioka Y, Krajewski K, Roller PP and Wang S. Structure-based design of potent, conformationally constrained Smac mimetics. J Am Chem Soc 2004; 126(51):16686-7.
  25. Sun H, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Yang CY, Xu L, Tomita Y, Krajewski K, Roller PP and Wang S.  Structure-based design of conformationally constrained Smac Mimetics.  J Med Chem, 2004; 47(17):4147-4150.
  26. Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Xu L, Hu Z, Tomita Y, Li P, Roller PP, Wang R, Fang X, Guo R, Zhang M, Lippman, ME, Yang D and Wang S, Discovery of Embelin as A Cell-Permeable, Small-Molecular Weight Inhibitor of XIAP through Structure-Based Computational Screening of Traditional Herbal Medicine Three-Dimensional Structural Database. J Med Chem 2004; 47(10):2430-2440.
  27. Xu L, Frederik P, Pirollo KF, Tang WH, Rait A, Xiang LM, Huang W, Cruz I, Yin Y and Chang EH. Self-assembly of a virus-mimicking nanostructure system for efficient tumor-targeted gene delivery. Hum Gene Ther 2002; 13(3):469-481.
  28. Xu, L., Pirollo, K.F., and Chang, E.H.  Tumor-Targeted p53-Gene Therapy Enhances the Efficacy of Conventional Chemo/Radiotherapy.  J Controlled Release 2001; 74:115-128.
  29. Xu L, Pirollo KF, Tang WH, Rait A and Chang EH.  Transferrin-liposome-mediated Systemic p53 Gene Therapy in Combination with Radiation Results in Regression of Human Head and Neck Cancer Xenografts.  Hum Gene Ther 1999; 10:2941-2952.
  30. Xu, L., Pirollo, K.F., and Chang, E.H., Transferrin-Liposome-Mediated p53 Sensitization of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck to Radiation In Vitro.  Hum Gene Ther 1997; 8:467-475.

Issued Patents

  1. Simeone DM, Ljungman M, Xu L, Wang L, He F. Compositions and methods for treating cancer. US Patent No. US 8,088749 B2, issued on Jan. 3, 2012.
  2. Wang S, Sun H, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Yang CY, Xu L.  Conformationally Constrained SMAC Mimetics and The Uses Thereof.  United States Patent No. US 7,932,382, issued on April 26, 2011.
  3. Chen J, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Yang D, Wang S, Sun H, Xu L, Hu Z.   Small molecule antagonists of XIAP family proteins.  United States Patent No. US 7,910,621, issued on Mar. 22, 2011.
  4. Wang S, Sun H, Nikolovska-Coleska Z, Yang CY, Xu L, Saito N, Chen J.   Conformationally Constrained SMAC Mimetics and The Uses Thereof.  United States Patent No. US 7,674,787, issued on Mar. 9, 2010.
  5. Xu L., Huang CC, Alexander W, Tang WH and Chang EH.  Antibody fragment-targeted immunoliposomes for systemic gene delivery. United States Patent No. US 7,479,276, issued on Jan. 20, 2009.
  6. Wang S, Yang D and Xu L. Small molecule antagonists of Bcl-2 family proteins. United States Patent No. US 7,432,304, issued on Oct.7, 2008.
  7. Xu L., Huang CC, Alexander W, Tang WH and Chang EH.  Antibody fragment-targeted immunoliposomes for systemic gene delivery. European Patent No. EP 1,154,756, issued on Jan.3, 2007.
  8. Chang, E.H., Xu, L. and Pirollo, K.F.  Targeted liposome gene delivery.  United States Patent No. 6,749,863, issued on June 15, 2004.
  9. Search PubMed for articles by Liang Xu.


Biochemistry & Protein Science

Bioinformatics & Modeling


Materials Characterization

Molecular Structures

Translational Biology

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