Shili Xu

Assistant Adjunct Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California Los Angeles

My research team focuses on the development of in vivo state-of-the-art molecular imaging technologies including positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and optical (fluorescence and bioluminescence) imaging. We integrate and apply these technologies for non-invasive assessment of cancer, immune response, neurological disorders, cardiology, and associated biology, as well as preclinical probe and drug development in small animal models. We have developed a broad spectrum of PET probes and reporter genes to preclinically image cell metabolism, monitor cell trafficking and activation, disease progression, and profile drug pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics/biodistribution and tracer kinetics.

Education and Training

University of Southern CaliforniaPh.D.05/2013Pharmaceutical Sciences
Peking UniversityB.S.06/2007Biological Sciences
Peking UniversityB.S.06/2007Economics

Awards and Honors

  • Best Postdoctoral Research Presentation Award, UCLA, 2017.
  • Jia-Li Scholarship, Peking University, 2005.
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, University of Southern California, 2009.
  • The Horizon Award, US Department of Defense, 2016.
  • The Hirshberg Foundation Seed Grant Award, The Hirshberg Foundation, 2018.
  • The 1st Prize in Research Poster Presentation, University of Southern California, 2012.
  • Outstanding Research Assistant Award, University of Southern California, 2013.
  • President’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Peking University, 2006.
  • Guang-Hua Scholarship, Peking University, 2004.
  • The Alavi-Mandell Award, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, 2020.
  • Best Research Poster Presentation Award, UCLA, 2015.
  • The 1st Prize in Annual Graduate STEM Research Competition, University of Southern California, 2013.
  • Phi Kappa Phi Student Recognition Award, University of Southern California, 2013.
  • GPSAW Award for Best Graduate Research, University of Southern California, 2013.


  1. Gelb MB, Messina KMM, Vinciguerra D, Ko JH, Collins J, Tamboline M, Xu S, Ibarrondo FJ, Maynard HD. Poly(trehalose methacrylate) as an Excipient for Insulin Stabilization: Mechanism and Safety.. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 2022.
  2. Lamkin DM, Chen S, Bradshaw KP, Xu S, Faull KF, Sloan EK, Cole SW. Low-dose exposure to PBDE disrupts genomic integrity and innate immunity in mammary tissue.. Frontiers in genetics, 2022.
  3. Zhao X, Chen G, Zhou Y, Nashalian A, Xu J, Tat T, Song Y, Libanori A, Xu S, Li S, Chen J. Giant Magnetoelastic Effect Enabled Stretchable Sensor for Self-Powered Biomonitoring.. ACS nano, 2022.
  4. Khoja S, Lambert J, Nitzahn M, Eliav A, Zhang Y, Tamboline M, Le CT, Nasser E, Li Y, Patel P, Zhuravka I, Lueptow LM, Tkachyova I, Xu S, Nissim I, Schulze A, Lipshutz GS. Gene therapy for guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency restores cerebral and myocardial creatine while resolving behavioral abnormalities.. Molecular therapy. Methods & clinical development, 2022.
  5. Yang L, Yan X, Chen J, Zhan Q, Hua Y, Xu S, Li Z, Wang Z, Dong Y, Zuo D, Xue M, Tang Y, Herschman HR, Lu S, Shi Q, Wei W. Hexokinase 2 discerns a novel circulating tumor cell population associated with poor prognosis in lung cancer patients.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2021.
  6. Li R, Ong SL, Tran LM, Jing Z, Liu B, Park SJ, Huang ZL, Walser TC, Heinrich EL, Lee G, Salehi-Rad R, Crosson WP, Pagano PC, Paul MK, Xu S, Herschman H, Krysan K, Dubinett S. Chronic IL-1β-induced inflammation regulates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition memory phenotypes via epigenetic modifications in non-small cell lung cancer.. Scientific reports, 2020.
  7. Xu S, Herschman HR. Comparison of the Efficacy and Sensitivity of Alternative PET Reporter Gene/PET Reporter Probe Systems That Minimize Biological Variables.. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2020.
  8. Kim SS, Xu S, Cui J, Poddar S, Le TM, Hayrapetyan H, Li L, Wu N, Moore AM, Zhou L, Yu AC, Dann AM, Elliott IA, Abt ER, Kim W, Dawson DW, Radu CG, Donahue TR. Histone deacetylase inhibition is synthetically lethal with arginine deprivation in pancreatic cancers with low argininosuccinate synthetase 1 expression.. Theranostics, 2020.
  9. Abt ER, Rosser EW, Durst MA, Lok V, Poddar S, Le TM, Cho A, Kim W, Wei L, Song J, Capri JR, Xu S, Wu N, Slavik R, Jung ME, Damoiseaux R, Czernin J, Donahue TR, Lavie A, Radu CG. Metabolic Modifier Screen Reveals Secondary Targets of Protein Kinase Inhibitors within Nucleotide Metabolism.. Cell chemical biology, 2019.
  10. Xu S, Herschman HR. A Tumor Agnostic Therapeutic Strategy for Hexokinase 1-Null/Hexokinase 2-Positive Cancers.. Cancer research, 2019.
  11. Machiraju PK, Yedla P, Gubbala SP, Bohari T, Abdul JKV, Xu S, Patel R, Chittireddy VRR, Boppana K, Jagarlapudi SARP, Neamati N, Syed R, Amanchy R. Identification, synthesis and evaluation of CSF1R inhibitors using fragment based drug design.. Computational biology and chemistry, 2019.
  12. Xu S, Liu Y, Yang K, Wang H, Shergalis A, Kyani A, Bankhead A, Tamura S, Yang S, Wang X, Wang CC, Rehemtulla A, Ljungman M, Neamati N. Inhibition of protein disulfide isomerase in glioblastoma causes marked downregulation of DNA repair and DNA damage response genes.. Theranostics, 2019.
  13. Elliott IA, Dann AM, Xu S, Kim SS, Abt ER, Kim W, Poddar S, Moore A, Zhou L, Williams JL, Capri JR, Ghukasyan R, Matsumura C, Tucker DA, Armstrong WR, Cabebe AE, Wu N, Li L, Le TM, Radu CG, Donahue TR. Lysosome inhibition sensitizes pancreatic cancer to replication stress by aspartate depletion.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2019.
  14. Xu S, Zhou T, Doh HM, Trinh KR, Catapang A, Lee JT, Braas D, Bayley NA, Yamada RE, Vasuthasawat A, Sasine JP, Timmerman JM, Larson SM, Kim Y, MacLeod AR, Morrison SL, Herschman HR. An HK2 Antisense Oligonucleotide Induces Synthetic Lethality in HK1-HK2+ Multiple Myeloma.. Cancer research, 2019.
  15. Argus JP, Wilks MQ, Zhou QD, Hsieh WY, Khialeeva E, Hoi XP, Bui V, Xu S, Yu AK, Wang ES, Herschman HR, Williams KJ, Bensinger SJ. Development and Application of FASA, a Model for Quantifying Fatty Acid Metabolism Using Stable Isotope Labeling.. Cell reports, 2018.
  16. Xu S, Catapang A, Doh HM, Bayley NA, Lee JT, Braas D, Graeber TG, Herschman HR. Hexokinase 2 is targetable for HK1 negative, HK2 positive tumors from a wide variety of tissues of origin.. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine, 2018.
  17. Krall AS, Xu S, Graeber TG, Braas D, Christofk HR. Asparagine promotes cancer cell proliferation through use as an amino acid exchange factor.. Nature communications, 2016.
  18. Singh SS, Sarma JA, Narasu L, Dayam R, Xu S, Neamati N. A review on PARP1 inhibitors: Pharmacophore modeling, virtual and biological screening studies to identify novel PARP1 inhibitors.. Current topics in medicinal chemistry, 2014.
  19. Xu S, Sankar S, Neamati N. Protein disulfide isomerase: a promising target for cancer therapy.. Drug discovery today, 2013.
  20. Xu S, Neamati N. gp130: a promising drug target for cancer therapy.. Expert opinion on therapeutic targets, 2013.
  21. Adisetiyo H, Liang M, Liao CP, Aycock-Williams A, Cohen MB, Xu S, Neamati N, Conway EM, Cheng CY, Nikitin AY, Roy-Burman P. Loss of survivin in the prostate epithelium impedes carcinogenesis in a mouse model of prostate adenocarcinoma.. PloS one, 2013.
  22. Saha S, Reddy ChV, Xu S, Sankar S, Neamati N, Patro B. Synthesis and SAR studies of marine natural products ma'edamines A, B and their analogues.. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters, 2013.
  23. Xu S, Grande F, Garofalo A, Neamati N. Discovery of a novel orally active small-molecule gp130 inhibitor for the treatment of ovarian cancer.. Molecular cancer therapeutics, 2013.
  24. Xu S, Oshima T, Imada T, Masuda M, Debnath B, Grande F, Garofalo A, Neamati N. Stabilization of MDA-7/IL-24 for colon cancer therapy.. Cancer letters, 2013.
  25. Debnath B, Xu S, Grande F, Garofalo A, Neamati N. Small molecule inhibitors of CXCR4.. Theranostics, 2013.
  26. Zeng LF, Wang Y, Kazemi R, Xu S, Xu ZL, Sanchez TW, Yang LM, Debnath B, Odde S, Xie H, Zheng YT, Ding J, Neamati N, Long YQ. Repositioning HIV-1 integrase inhibitors for cancer therapeutics: 1,6-naphthyridine-7-carboxamide as a promising scaffold with drug-like properties.. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 2012.
  27. Xu S, Butkevich AN, Yamada R, Zhou Y, Debnath B, Duncan R, Zandi E, Petasis NA, Neamati N. Discovery of an orally active small-molecule irreversible inhibitor of protein disulfide isomerase for ovarian cancer treatment.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2012.
  28. Debnath B, Xu S, Neamati N. Small molecule inhibitors of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) protein.. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 2012.
  29. Millard M, Pathania D, Grande F, Xu S, Neamati N. Small-molecule inhibitors of p53-MDM2 interaction: the 2006-2010 update.. Current pharmaceutical design, 2011.
  30. Yamada R, Kostova MB, Anchoori RK, Xu S, Neamati N, Khan SR. Biological evaluation of paclitaxel-peptide conjugates as a model for MMP2-targeted drug delivery.. Cancer biology & therapy, 2010.
  31. Chen B, Lian M, Xu S, Luo M, Zheng X. A chemical lipid modification of recombinant preS antigen to study the mechanism of HBV attachment to the host cell.. Journal of biotechnology, 2008.