Shou-Jiang (SJ) Gao, PhD

  • Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
  • Director, UPMC Cancer Virology Program
  • Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)
  • Member, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Member, Integrative Systems Biology (ISB) Graduate Program

Education & Training

  • PhD in Microbiology, University of Bordeaux (France), 1993
  • MSc in Biochemistry, South China Agricultural University (China)
  • BS in Agronomy, South China Agricultural University (China)

Research Interests

The main research area in Dr. Gao’s laboratory has been on viral oncogenesis with current focus on Kaposi’s sarcoma-associate herpesvirus (KSHV) and AIDS-related malignancies. In addition to studying virus infection, replication, latency and virus-host interactions, the lab has engaged in a multidisciplinary effort, and expanded the research program into translational and cancer therapeutics, cancer metabolism, microbiota, inflammation, angiogenesis, innate immunity, and microRNAs. The lab has applied state-of-art approaches and technologies in genomics, epigenetics, RNA epigenetics, metabolomics, high-throughput genomic screening, high-throughput drug screening, and systems biology to tackle these forefront biomedical issues. In particular, the lab has recently invested in drug screening and discovery as a result of the identification of new therapeutic targets and development of new model systems for infections and cancers. Dr. Gao’s laboratory is well supported by extramural funding. There are currently 6 active R01s and 1 Sub-project of an active PPG. Here are some of the ongoing research directions and projects:

  1. Drug screening and discovery: The lab has developed several cancer and infection models, and used them in Crispr-Cas9 mediated genome-wide screening and drug screening. The lab has already identified numerous new targets and agents, which have been shown to be effective in both in vitro and in vivo models. Ongoing works are to validate some of these targets and agents in other types of cancer. 
  2. Systems biology: The lab has been engaging in works in epigenetics, RNA epigenetics and metabolomics in cancer and infections. 
  3. Infections, inflammation and innate immunity: The lab continues to study microRNAs, inflammation, angiogenesis, innate immunity and infections. 


Li TT, Ju EG and Gao S-J. 2019. Suppression of mTORC1 inhibitor CASTOR1 by oncogenic KSHV-encoded microRNAs promotes cell proliferation and growth transformation. J Clin Invest., in revision. 

Gruffaz M, Yuan H, Meng W, Liu H, Bae S, Kim J-S, Lu C, Huang Y and Gao S-J. 2019. CRISPR-Cas9 Screening of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus-Transformed Cells Identifies XPO1 as a Vulnerable Target of Cancer Cells. mBio. 10: e00866-19.

Tan B, Liu H, Zhang S, da Silva SR, Zhang L, Meng J, Cui X, Yuan H, Sorel O, Zhang SW, Huang Y and Gao SJ. 2017. Viral and cellular N(6)-methyladenosine and N(6),2'-O-dimethyladenosine epitranscriptomes in the KSHV life cycle. Nat Microbiol. 3: 108-120.

Gruffaz M, Vasan K, Tan B, Ramos da Silva S and Gao SJ. 2017. TLR4-Mediated Inflammation Promotes KSHV-Induced Cellular Transformation and Tumorigenesis by Activating the STAT3 Pathway. Cancer Res. 77: 7094-7108.

Moody R, Zhu Y, Huang Y, Cui X, Jones T, Bedolla R, Lei X, Bai Z and Gao SJ. 2013. KSHV microRNAs mediate cellular transformation and tumorigenesis by redundantly targeting cell growth and survival pathways. PLoS Pathog. 9: e1003857.

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