Dr. Jia-huai Wang

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Department of Medical Oncology
Department of Cancer Biology

Harvard Medical School
Department of Pediatrics
Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Dr. Jia-huai Wang is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in the Department of Medical Oncology and Department of Cancer Biology. He has the same appointment at Harvard Medical School, in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He obtained his B.A from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1963 and an equivalent Ph.D. from the Beijing Biophysics Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1979. He had worked in Biophysics Institute in the period of 1963-1979. He was the member of Beijing Insulin Group, which was bestowed Natural Science Award of China in 1982. During 1979-1982, he was a visiting scholar at University of Wisconsin at Madison and at Harvard University, the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 1982-1988 he was back in Beijing Biophysics Institute, promoted to Associate Professor and later Professor. He served as director of Protein Crystallography Department there in 1987-1988. He was appointed as a member of National 863 Committee of Biotechnology of China in1986-1990. He came to the United States again late in 1988 working at Harvard, the same department till 1996 before moving to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a Principal Investigator. In 2001, he was promoted as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Wang has been working on structural biology for several decades. His work includes insulin, plant toxins, RNA and DNA/protein complex. Over the last 20 years he has been focusing on structures of cell surface receptors that play critical roles in immune system and nervous system. In collaboration with colleagues within Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School, he has worked out structures of a number of key immune molecules, including T cell receptors, MHC molecules, co-receptors and their interacting complexes. His group has also determined structures of many cell adhesion molecules, such as CD2, CD58, Cadherin, ICAM family members and the complexes with their interacting partners. More recently he begins to turn his interests into neuronal receptors. Drosophila Dscam is one example. The homophilic binding of Dscam is key to correct neuronal wiring process. Wang’s group has also been working on structural virology. He has solved structures of several virus receptors and HIV core fusion protein, gp41. In collaboration with colleagues at Hong Kong, a structure of nucleoprotein from H5N1 has been determined. More recently we begin to explore the host control of HIV infection, working on structure basis of T cell immunity against HIV.

Since 2011, at the invitation of the School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China, Dr. Wang becomes an adjunct faculty member, setting up a small operation there, focusing on structure-function studies of neuro-receptors. Most recently in collaboration with a group at EMBL, Hamburg, we have determined structure of netrin-1 in complex with DCC, uncovering the molecular mechanism of netrin-1 bi-functionality, a long-standing puzzle in neuroscience field.

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