Wendong Huang, Ph.D.

Wendong Huang, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism Research

Wendong Huang, Ph.D.

Research Focus :
  • Cancer Biology
A devoted and passionate researcher, Wendong Huang, Ph.D., and his lab associates are constantly searching for the most effective treatments for liver cancer and diabetes.
Educated in China, Dr. Huang arrived in the U.S. in 1995 and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He joined City of Hope in 2005 following five years as a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
One of Dr. Huang's most notable research projects involved a compound derived from a plant used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat inflammation. The compound was found to interfere with the stem cells that develop into liver cancer.
  • 2016 - Present, Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism, Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute and Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2010 - 2016, Associate Professor, Division of Molecular Diabetes Research, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2008 - present, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005 - 2010, Assistant Professor, Division of Gene Regulation and Drug Discovery, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • Diabetes Complications & Metabolism
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer


  • 2000, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics


  • 2000 - 2005, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Metabolic regulation in Diabetes and cancer
We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying both metabolism and cancer. One particular direction is the functional studies of a group of nuclear receptors. Nuclear receptors are a special group of transcriptional factors that are activated by their cognate ligands. A new branch of nuclear receptors was recently identified to play pivotal roles in regulating different metabolic pathways. These nuclear receptors work as sensors of metabolic signals and regulate the expression of essential genes in different pathways. Studies in this area have generated significant impact in many human diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer. A second approach is focused on the identification and characterization of novel signaling pathways in metabolism and cancer through both genetic and epigenetic approaches. We have identified several novel miRNA-mediated pathways in metabolic diseases as well as cancer growth and metastasis. We have generated transgenic mouse models of those miRNAs and their roles in obesity, diabetes and cancer development are being investigated currently. Moreover, we screen and identify novel small chemical compounds to target diabetes and cancer. In summary, taking advantage of both genetically engineered mouse models and molecular pharmacological tools, our long-term goal is to identify novel signaling pathways in metabolism and cancer in order to provide new targets for drug discovery. The current research projects focus on:

  • Identification of novel signaling molecules and pathways in regulating metabolism, diabetes and cancer.
  • Small molecules and RNA targeted therapy for diabetes and cancer.
  • Mechanisms underlying bariatric surgery and diabetes therapy.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (from over 90 total publications)


  • Fu XH, Dong BN, Tian Y, Lefebvre P, Meng Z, Wang X, Pattou F, Han W, Wang X, Lou F, Jove R, Staels B, Moore DD, Huang W. (2015) MiR-26a regulates insulin sensitivity and metabolism of glucose and lipids. J. Clin. Invest. 125(6):2497-509. PMC – in process
  • Dong B, Lee JS, Park YY, Yang F, Xu G, Huang W, Finegold M, Moore DD. (2015) Activating CAR and β-Catenin Induces Uncontrolled Liver Growth and Tumorigenesis. Nat Comm. 6:5944.
  • Pan RL, Xiang LX, Wang P, Liu XY, Nie L, Huang W* and Shao JZ*. (2015) FGF2lmw attenuates hepatic fibrosis via epigenetic downregulation of Delta-like1. Hepatology 61(5):1708-20. (*co-correspondent author)
  • Fu XH, Jin L, Wang XC, Hu JK, Zheng XW, Tsark WM, Riggs AD, Ku HT, Huang W. (2013) MiR-26a targets TET enzymes and is regulated during pancreatic cell differentiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 110(44):17892-7.
  • Chen T, Meng Z, Gan Y, Wang X, Gu Y, Xu X, Tang J, Zhou H, Zhang X, Gan X, Van Ness C, Xu F, Xu G, Huang L, Zhang X, Fang Y, Zheng S, Jin J, Huang W*, Xu R*. (2013) The viral oncogene Np9 acts as a critical molecular switch for co-activating β-catenin, ERK, Akt and Notch1 and promoting the growth of human leukemia stem/progenitor cells. Leukemia 27(7):1469-78. (*co-correspondent author)
  • Gu Y, Chen T, Meng Z, Gan Y, Xu X, Lou G, Li H, Gan X, Zhou H, Tang J, Xu G, Huang L, Zhang X, Fang Y, Wang K, Zheng S, Huang W*, Xu R*. (2012) CaMKII γ, a critical regulator of CML stem/progenitor cells, is a target of the natural product berbamine. Blood. 120(24):4829-39.  (*co-correspondent author).
  • Chen WD, Yu D, Forman BM, Huang W*, Wang YD*.  (2012).  The deficiency of G-protein coupled bile acid receptor Gpbar1 (TGR5) enhances chemically induced liver carcinogenesis. Hepatology. 57(2):656-66. (*co-correspondent author)
  • Meng Z, Wang X, Gan Y, Zhang Y, Zhou H, Van Ness C, Wu J, Lou G, Yu H, He C, Xu R, Huang W. (2012).  Deletion of IFNγ enhances hepatocarcinogenesis in FXR knockout mice. J Hepatol. 57(5):1004-12. PMID:  22728874
  • Zhang L, Wang YD, Chen WD, Wang X, Lou G, Liu N, Lin M, Forman BM, Huang W. (2012).  Promotion of liver regeneration/repair by farnesoid X receptor in both liver and intestine. Hepatology. 56(6):2336-43. PMID: 22711662
  • Chen WD, Fu X, Dong B, Wang YD, Shiah S, Moore DD, Huang W. (2012).  Epigenetic misprogramming mediated by the xenobiotic receptor CAR results in permanent changes of drug metabolism in mouse liver. Hepatology. 56(4):1499-509. PMID: 22488010
  • Lee CG, Kim YW, Kim EH, Meng Z, Huang W, Hwang SJ, Kim SG. (2012).  FXR Protects Hepatocytes from Injury by Repressing miR-199a-3p, which Increases Levels of LKB1. Gastroenterology.  PMID: 22265968
  • Wang YD, Chen WD, Yu D, Forman BM, Huang W. (2011).  The G-protein coupled bile acid receptor Gpbar1 (TGR5) negatively regulates hepatic inflammatory response through antagonizing nuclear factor kappaB. Hepatology. 54(4):1421-32.  PMID: 21735468. 
  • Meng, Z., Liu, N., Fu, X., Wang, X., Zhang, L., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Forman, B.M., Huang, W. (2011). Insufficient bile acid signaling impairs liver repair in CYP27 knockout mice. J. Hepatol.  55(4):885-95.  PMID: 21334403
  • Meng Z., Fu X., Chen X, Zeng S., Tian Y., Jove R., Xu R., Huang W. (2010).  miR-194 is a marker of hepatic epithelial cells and suppresses metastasis of liver cancer cells. Hepatology.  52:2148-57.  PMID: 20979124
  • Chen W., Wang Y., Zhang L., Shiah S., Wang M., Yang F., Yu D., Forman B.M. and Huang W. (2009).  Farnesoid X receptor alleviates age-related proliferation defects in regenerating mouse livers by activating forkhead box m1b transcription.  Hepatology.  51:953-62.  PMID: 19998409   
  • Dong B., Saha P.K., Huang W., Chen W., Abu-Elheiga L.A., Wakil S.J., Stevens R.D., Ilkayeva O., Newgard C.B., Chan L., and Moore D.D.  (2009).  Activation of nuclear receptor CAR ameliorates diabetes and fatty liver disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.  106:18831-6.  PMID: 19850873  
  • Wang Y., Chen W., Huang M., Yu D., Forman B.M., and Huang, W. (2008) Farnesoid X receptor antagonizes NF-kB in hepatic inflammatory response. Hepatology 48:1632-43.  PMID: 18972444
  • Wang Y., Chen W., Moore D.D., and Huang, W. (2008) FXR - metabolic regulator and cell protector.  Cell Res. 18:1087-95.  PMID: 18825165
  • Murphy M.J., Blanco-Bose W.E., Ehninger A, Offner S., Dubey C., Huang W., Moore D.D., and Trumpp A. (2008) c-Myc and its target FoxM1b are critical downstream effectors of TCPOBOP-CAR induced direct liver hyperplasia. Hepatology 48:1302-11.  PMID: 18798339
  • Yang F., Huang X., Yi T., Yen Y., Moore D.D., and Huang W. (2007) Spontaneous development of liver tumors in the absence of the bile acid receptor Farnesoid X Receptor. Cancer Res. 67: 863-867. 
  • Baskin-Bey E., Huang W., Ishimura N., Bronk S.F., Werneburg N., Moore D.D., and Gores G. J. (2006) Constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) ligand, TCPOBOP, attenuates Fas-induced murine liver injury by altering Bcl-2 proteins. Hepatology. 44:252-262.
  • Huang W., Ma K., Zhang J., Qatanani M., Cuvillier J., Liu J., Dong B., Huang X., and Moore D.D. (2006) Nuclear receptor dependent bile acid signaling is required for normal liver regeneration. Science (Article) 312:233-236.
  • Columbano A., Ledda-Columbano G.M., Pibiri M., Cossu C., Menegazzi M., Moore D.D., Huang W., Tian J., and Locker J. (2005) GADD45b is induced through a CAR-dependent TNF-independent pathway in liver hyperplasia. Hepatology 42, 1118-1126.
  • Huang W., Zhang J., and Moore D.D. (2004) A traditional herbal medicine enhances bilirubin clearance by activating the nuclear receptor CAR. J. Clin. Invest. 113, 137-143. Comment in: Dev.cell 2004 Mar;46(3):539-40.
  • Huang W.*, Zhang J.*, Chua S.S., Qatanani M., Hang Y., Granata R., and Moore D.D. (2003) Induction of bilirubin clearance by the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR). Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci. USA 100, 4156-4161. (*co-first author)
  • Zhang J.*, Huang W.*, Chua S.S., Wei P., and Moore D.D. (2002) Modulation of acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity by the xenobiotic receptor CAR. Science 298, 422-424.    (*co-first author)
  • Bi W., Huang W., Whitworth D.J., Deng J., Zhang Z., Behringer R.R., and de Crombrugghe B. (2001). Haploinsufficiency of Sox9 results in defective precartilaginous mesenchymal condensations and premature skeletal mineralization. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci. USA 98, 6698-6703.
  • Huang W., Chung U., Kronenberg H.M., and de Crombrugghe B. (2001). The chondrogenic transcription factor Sox9 is a target of signaling by the parathyroid hormone-related peptide in the growth plate of endochondral bones. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci. USA 98, 160-165.
  • American Association of Cancer Research (AACR)
  • International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX)
  • Endocrine Society
  • 2011, Research Scholar Award, American Cancer Society
  • 2008, Ibrahim El-hefni Technical Training Foundation Award (TTF)
  • 2008, Concern Foundation Award
  • 2007, Kimmel Scholar Award, Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 2007, March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award
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