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The Wistar Institute Appoints Chengyu Liang, M.D., Ph.D., as Professor in Its Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA — (July 6, 2020) — The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, announces the appointment of Chengyu Liang, M.D., Ph.D., as professor in the Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center.

The Liang laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that regulate fundamental cellular processes such as autophagy, cell death, DNA damage repair, and membrane trafficking in the context of cancer and infectious disease.

Autophagy, which means “self-eating”, is a natural mechanism used by cells to digest, remove and recycle unwanted components. This process also represents a barrier against malignant transformation. The Liang lab studies autophagy in leukemia, colorectal cancer, melanoma, and viral persistency, optimally bridging cancer and infectious disease, the two main research areas at Wistar.

Among their accomplishments, Liang and her team have identified a novel autophagy pathway controlled by a tumor suppressor gene called UV-radiation Resistance-Associated Gene (UVRAG) that also plays a direct role in DNA repair and chromosomal stability.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to welcome a world-renowned research leader like Chengyu at Wistar,” said Dario Altieri, M.D., president and CEO, director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor. “Her contributions have tremendously advanced our understanding of autophagy and other molecular pathways of cellular quality control, with enormous disease relevance for melanoma development and progression. Chengyu’s work is an ideal complement to the long-standing commitment of the Institute to melanoma research and uniquely poised to make far-reaching discoveries that will ultimately benefit our patients.”

“Joining Wistar is an invaluable opportunity,” said Liang. “I think it will be the perfect home for my lab: a not-too-big and high-caliber community, with strong research programs and core facilities, offering exceptional scientific diversity and connections.”

Prior to joining Wistar, Liang was a tenured associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, which she joined in 2009 as an assistant professor.

She obtained her M.D. degree from Qingdao University School of Medicine, in China, and her Ph.D. degree in molecular genetics from State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, New York. She received her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, in Boston.


The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.

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