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Xin Zhou, PhD

Cancer Biology

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Xin Zhou, PhD


  • Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard
  • Medical School and Cancer Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Phone Number617-582-9749


Dr. Zhou received her Ph.D. degree in 2017 from Stanford University with Dr. Michael Lin, where she invented a modular design for optogenetic control of signaling proteins. She then completed a postdoc with Dr. James Wells at UCSF, where she focused on engineering antibodies for challenging targets and developed a new point-of-care assay for SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection. Dr. Zhou joined the DFCI faculty in 2022. She is a recipient of a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award, the Damon Runyon-Dale F Frey Breakthrough Scientists award, and the PEGS Summit Young Scientist Keynote award.

Recent Awards:

  • K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award
  • Damon Runyon-Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists
  • PEGS Summit Young Scientist Keynote


Engineering new signaling biomolecules for re-directing oncogenic and immune pathways

Molecular recognitions, such as receptor-ligand binding, enzyme-substrate recognition, or metabolite-protein interaction, are fundamental processes driving all biological pathways. My laboratory’s research focuses on repurposing natural and synthetic molecular recognition events for sensing and re-directing cell signaling responses. Our research spans three interrelated directions. First, we design sensors and signaling integrators to detect the dynamic signaling events in the tumor microenvironment (TME). This research is based on coupling a molecular recognition event to a fluorescence or luminescence output. The work will lead to a deep fundamental understanding of how tumors grow and progress in situ and how they interact with the surrounding cells, molecules, or therapeutic perturbations. Second, based on the knowledge we learned about the TME, we design new biologics and signaling circuits activated only in the disease microenvironment. This research is based on devising conditional molecular recognitions such as ATP- or phospho-activated binding domains. These new molecules will address the challenge of off-tumor toxicities and low efficacy with current cancer medicines. Lastly, we develop new biomedicine modalities that can target previously intractable drug targets. This research is based on exploiting bi-specific protein recognition to engage the downstream response of one target to the other. This research will enable new strategies to functionally manipulate “yet-to-be-drugged” protein groups through novel mechanisms.

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Research Website:


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