Jialing XiangDepartment of Biological and Chemical Sciences
Cell death is a normal body function. Each day, cells repair themselves or “commit suicide” and die. About 15 years ago, researchers began to look more closely at it for clues to diseases involving abnormal cell death, like cancer. They were surprised to see that some types of cell death have intricate biochemical and molecular processes, with the cell setting a kind of program for itself and then following it through step by careful step, communicating with or “signaling” to its neighbors along the way. These steps have become the focus of intensive research in recent years, including Associate Professor of Biology Jialing Xiang’s, whose work is cited globally.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Xiang and her team study one type of genetic molecule that regulates the apoptic (a type of cell death) process, including how it moves inside cells and communicates with other signaling networks or signals. Her work should improve our understanding of how cancer develops and may provide critical information for the treatment and prevention of cancers.