Meet New Investigator Jixin Dong, Ph.D.

January 12, 2015

Image with caption: Jixin Dong, Ph.D.

Jixin Dong, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored Feb. 2 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2014 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

  • Name: Jixin Dong, Ph.D.
  • Title: Assistant professor, Eppley Institute
  • Joined UNMC: 2008
  • Hometown: Tongxiang, Zhejiang, China

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
My laboratory is interested in Hippo/YAP signaling pathway in cancer development and progression.

One of the major areas of our research is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms through which Hippo/YAP exerts their tumor suppressive/oncogenic function. We found that Hippo/YAP signaling is regulated during cell cycle progression and plays an important role in mitosis and cytokinesis.

Another major direction is to validate YAP as a therapeutic target in prostate and pancreatic cancer. Activation of YAP is known to promote cell growth and prevent cell death. Our initial studies demonstrated that YAP plays an important role in castration-resistant prostate cancer and in the metastasis of pancreatic cancer, which are major clinical challenges. Therefore, inhibiting YAP (e.g. by small molecules) is a potential novel therapeutic strategy, and is expected to benefit cancer patients with advanced disease.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
Many of the Hippo/YAP signaling members are tumor suppressors or oncoproteins. The Hippo/YAP pathway has great potential as a cancer therapeutic target.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
"Do something new," from my postdoc mentor.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I was a pathologist (for plants). I was working on Vitis (grape), Oryza (rice), Arabidopsis thaliana (a small flowering plant), and Drosophila (the fruit fly). I am currently researching Hippo (pathway) in Mus musculus (mouse) and Homo sapiens (human).
  • My dream (before college) was to be a pilot. I like planes and plane-related movies.
  • My kids often say, "Dad's cooking seldom fails."

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