– by Carmen Dessauer, Ph.D
We welcome to the department Dr. Xiaodong Cheng and members of his laboratory. Dr. Cheng received his bachelor’s degree at Peking University in Beijing, China and his master’s degree in Shanghai before coming to Texas to obtain his PhD at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB). Xiaodong did his
postdoctoral work with Dr. Susan Taylor at UC San Diego and then returned to UTMB in 1999 to start his own
laboratory. Xiaodong is accompanied by his wife, Dr. Fang Mei who has been a constant source of support
throughout his career. Xiaodong and Fang have known each other since high school, but it wasn’t until they
reunited in Beijing that they began dating and eventually married. Fang received her medical degree in Beijing and has worked as a Research Scientist for over 20 years. She began working with Xiaodong soon after he started his own lab in Galveston and is a coauthor on many of his manuscripts. Xiaodong and Fang have two children; a daughter Lulu who is working for DropBox and a son Denise who is currently a student at the University of Texas in Austin. Other members of the Cheng group include Drs. Hui Wang (postdoctoral fellow with a PhD from the University of Wyoming) and Yingmin Zhu (Research Associate who obtained his PhD at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences) and two graduate students Yaohua Hu and Muayad Almahariq. Mr. Almahariq is an MD/PhD student that is currently funded by the Training Program in Pharmacological Sciences.
The Cheng laboratory is well known for their work on the cAMP-dependent Rap exchanger named Epac. His
group showed that although Epac and PKA are activated by the same second messenger, they often
exert opposing physiological effects. His lab has been the first to examine the protein dynamics by deuterium
exchange mass spectroscopy and to identify novel Epac selective inhibitors. Most recently, they have
developed Epac1 knockout mice to show roles for the enzyme in diabetes and leptin signaling, and have
identified a potential use of Epac inhibitors in the treatment of fatal rickettsioses. We are thrilled to have
Xiaodong, Fang and the rest of the Cheng laboratory join the department and look forward to many fruitful
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