Research Fellow School of Medicine

Prof. Cao focuses on the study of skeleton development and homeostasis regulation and related bone diseases (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc.), mechanisms of sugar and fat metabolism, etc. She obtained her Joint PhD degree (Tianjin Medical University and University of Pittsburgh) in immunology in 2010. Then she finished her post-doc training in the University of Pittsburgh (2010-2011). In 2014, Prof. Cao joined SUSTech, now she is a tenure-track associate professor. She is a member of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, life-time member of ICMRS, etc. Prof. Cao serves as a reviewer for Bone Research, Stem Cell Research & Therapy, Stem Cells Translational Medicine, Journal of cell physiology, etc. She is a reviewer for National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). She is in charge of the NSFC-Excellent Young Scientists Fund, NSFC-General Program, NSFC-Young Scientists Fund, etc. Her work has been reported in many high-profile journals such as the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Nature Communications, Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, Bone Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, JCI Insight, etc.

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(1) Study the mechanism of the formation of osteoblasts, osteoclasts and chondrocytes during skeletal development and steady state maintenance under physiological and pathological conditions;

(2) Study the role of adhesion proteins (such as Kindlin-2, Migfilin, Pinch1/2) in skeletal development and homeostasis;

(3) Study on the regulatory mechanisms of glucose and fat metabolism;

(4) Study on the mutual regulation of bone and extra-bone tissues and organs.

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Original Full-Length Peer-Reviewed Research Papers:

  1. Yu S., Franceschi R.T., Luo M., Fan J., Jiang D., Cao H., Kwon T.G., Lai Y., Zhang J., Patrene K., Hankenson K., Roodman G.D., and Xiao G., Critical role of activating transcription factor 4 in the anabolic actions of parathyroid hormone in bone. PLoS One, 2009. 4(10): p. e7583. PMCID: PMC2762317
  2. Cao H.#, Yu S.#, Yao Z., Galson D.L., Jiang Y., Zhang X., Fan J., Lu B., Guan Y., Luo M., Lai Y., Zhu Y., Kurihara N., Patrene K., Roodman G.D., and Xiao G., Activating transcription factor 4 regulates osteoclast differentiation in mice. J Clin Invest, 2010. 120(8): p. 2755-66. PMCID: PMC2912190
  3. Yang S., Xu H., Yu S., Cao H., Fan J., Ge C., Fransceschi R.T., Dong H.H., and Xiao G., Foxo1 mediates insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1)/insulin regulation of osteocalcin expression by antagonizing Runx2 in osteoblasts. J Biol Chem, 2011. 286(21): p. 19149-58. PMID: 21471200.
  4. Xiao G.#*, Cheng H.#, Cao H.#, Chen K., Tu Y., Yu S., Jiao H., Yang S., Im H.J., Chen D., Chen J.*, and Wu C.*, Critical role of filamin-binding LIM protein 1 (FBLP-1)/migfilin in regulation of bone remodeling. J Biol Chem, 2012. 287(25): p. 21450-60. PMID: 22556421
  5. Teramachi J., Hiruma Y., Ishizuka S., Ishizuka H., Brown J.P., Michou L., Cao H., Galson D.L., Subler M.A., Zhou H., Dempster D.W., Windle J.J., Roodman G.D., and Kurihara N., Role of ATF7-TAF12 interactions in the vitamin D response hypersensitivity of osteoclast precursors in Paget’s disease. J Bone Miner Res, 2013. 28(6): p. 1489-50. PMID:23426901
  6. Zhu K., Jiao H., Li S., Cao H., Galson D.L., Zhao Z., Zhao X., Lai Y., Fan J., Im H.J., Chen D., and Xiao G., ATF4 promotes bone angiogenesis by increasing VEGF expression and release in the bone environment. J Bone Miner Res, 2013. 28(9): p. 1870-1884. PMID:23649506
  7. Cao H., Zhu K., Qiu L., Li S., Niu H., Hao M., Yang S., Zhao Z., Lai Y., Anderson J.L., Fan J., Im H.J., Chen D., Roodman G.D., and Xiao G., Critical role of AKT protein in myeloma-induced osteoclast formation and osteolysis. J Biol Chem, 2013. 288(42): p. 30399-410. PMID:24005670
  8. Qin T.T., Xu G.C., Qi J.W., Yang G.L., Zhang K., Liu H.L., Xu L.X., Xiang R., Xiao G., Cao H., Wei Y., Zhang Q.Z., and Li L.Y., Tumour necrosis factor superfamily member 15 (Tnfsf15) facilitates lymphangiogenesis via up-regulation of Vegfr3 gene expression in lymphatic endothelial cells. J Pathol, 237(3): p. 307-18. PMID: 26096340
  9. Wu C. #*, Jiao H.#, Lai Y.#, Zheng W., Chen K., Qu H., Deng W., Song P., Zhu K., Cao H., Galson D.L., Fan J., Im H.J., Liu Y., Chen J., Chen D., and Xiao G.*, Kindlin-2 controls TGF-beta signalling and Sox9 expression to regulate chondrogenesis. Nat Commun, 2015. 6: p. 7531. PMID: 26151572
  10. Yang X., Xia R., Yue C., Zhai W., Du W., Yang Q., Cao H., Chen X., Obando D., Zhu Y., Chen X., Chen J.J., Piganelli J., Wipf P., Jiang Y., Xiao G., Wu C., Jiang J., and Lu B., ATF4 Regulates CD4(+) T Cell Immune Responses through Metabolic Reprogramming. Cell Rep, 23(6): p. 1754-1766. PMID:29742431
  11. Gao H.#, Guo Y.#, Yan Q.#, Yang W., Li R., Lin S., Bai X., Liu C., Chen D., Cao H.*, and Xiao G.*, Lipoatrophy and metabolic disturbance in mice with adipose-specific deletion of kindlin-2. JCI Insight, 2019. 4(13). PMID:31292295
  12. Wang Y., Yan Q., Zhao Y., Liu X., Lin S., Zhang P., Ma L., Lai Y., Bai X., Liu C., Wu C., Feng J.Q., Chen D., Cao H.*, and Xiao G.*, Focal adhesion proteins Pinch1 and Pinch2 regulate bone homeostasis in mice. JCI Insight, 2019. 4(22). PMID: 31723057
  13. Cao H.#*, Yan Q.#, Wang D.#, Lai Y., Zhou B., Zhang Q., Jin W., Lin S., Lei Y., Ma L., Guo Y., Wang Y., Wang Y., Bai X., Liu C., Feng J.Q., Wu C., Chen D., Cao X., and Xiao G.*, Focal adhesion protein Kindlin-2 regulates bone homeostasis in mice. Bone Research, 2020. 8(1): p. 2. PMID: 31934494.
  14. Zhu K., Lai Y., Cao H., Bai X., Liu C., Yan Q., Ma L., Chen D., Kanaporis G., Wang J., Li L., Cheng T., Wang Y., Wu C.*, and Xiao G.*, Kindlin-2 modulates MafA and β-catenin expression to regulate β-cell function and mass in mice. Nat Commun, 2020. 11(1): p. 484. PMID: 31980627
  15. Chen S., Qin L., Wu X., Fu X., Lin S., Chen D., Xiao G., Shao Z.*, and Cao H.*Moderate Fluid Shear Stress Regulates Heme Oxygenase-1 Expression to Promote Autophagy and ECM Homeostasis in the Nucleus Pulposus Cells. Front Cell Dev Biol, 2020. 8: p. 127. PMID: 32195253
  16. Yiming Lei#, Xuekun Fu#, Pengyu Li#, Sixiong Lin, Qinnan Yan, Yumei Lai, Xin Liu, Yishu Wang, Xiaochun Bai, Chuanju Liu, Di Chen, Huiling Cao*, Guozhi Xiao*. LIM domain proteins Pinch1/2 regulate chondrogenesis and bone mass in mice. Bone Research, Oct 13, 2020, 8(37). DOI:1038/s41413-020-00108-y.
  17. Fu X.#, Zhou B.#, Yan Q.#, Tao C., Qin L., Wu X., Lin S., Chen S., Lai Y., Zou X., Shao Z., Wang M., Chen D., Jin W., Song Y., Cao H.*, Zhang G.*, Xiao G.*­, Kindlin-2 regulates skeletal homeostasis by modulating PTH1R in mice. Signal Transduct Target Ther. Dec 26, 2020, 5(1). DOI: 1038/s41392-020-00328-y.
  18. Lei Qin, Xuekun Fu, Jing Ma, Manxia Lin, Peijun Zhang, Yishu Wang, Qingnan Yan, Chu Tao, Wen Liu, Bing Tang, Di Chen, Xiaochun Bai*, Huiling Cao*, Guozhi Xiao*. Kindlin-2 mediates mechanotransduction in bone by regulating expression of Sclerostin in osteocytes. Communications Biology, Mar 25, 2021,4(1). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-01950-4.

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Welcome to the Department of Biology! Since its establishment in 2012, the Department of Biology has attracted internationally renowned professors to join as leaders and dozens of young scientists to start their independent academic career here pursuit of excellence in research and teaching. The research interests of our faculty members include diverse topics such as systems biology, plant biology, neurobiology, structural biology and molecular cell biology. The primary goals of our faculty are to address the most significant fundamental biological questions and to develop new strategies to treat various complex diseases. Such efforts will benefit from the shared inter-disciplinary collaborative spirit deeply rooted in the minds of all the faculty members working in different departments at SUSTech.


Mentoring the next generation biologists with the highest standards is another primary task of the Department of Biology. Our professors choose internationally acclaimed textbooks to teach core courses biological sciences, biotechnology and bioinformatics. Undergraduates are encouraged to join the laboratory early to get firsthand working experience in basic and/or applied biological research, which helps them to consolidate the mastering of basic techniques, to broaden their knowledge horizons and to acquire the capabilities of problem identifying, hypothesis formulating and problem solving.


Life science, one of the fastest developing natural scientific disciplines, has been the driving force behind the growth of the world economy and provides the know for the development of new technologies serving to improve the human health and welfare at large. Wit generous financial support from the Shenzhen municipal government, we are confident that the Department of Biology in SUSTech will surely grow into a top tier globally-renowned research and teaching center!

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