State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China
A State Key Laboratory (SKL) award is national recognition for the highest degree of expertise for a laboratory of a particular academic discipline. SKLs receive funding and administrative support from the Chinese central government. There are 269 SKLs in China, among them 26 are dedicated to Medicine, only 7 are cancer-related.

The SKL of Oncology in South China was founded in March 2005 by the Ministry of Science and Technology in China, based on the Key Laboratory of Cancer-related Genes and Anticancer Drug of the Chinese Ministry of Education. This laboratory is integrated into Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center (SYSUCC) and its activities cover a broad spectrum in oncology from basic to translational and clinical research. The department as of 2016, has 39 Principal Investigators, 77 scientific Researchers, 75 PhD students and 62 MD students. The current director is Prof. Yi-Xin Zeng. The director of the academic committee is Prof. Bo-Qin Qiang. Both are members of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in China, more so for urban residents. In particular, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), also referred to as “Cantonese cancer”, has an unusually high incidence rate in South China, especially in the Guangdong area, which is why conquering NPC is one of the major tasks of this laboratory.

Scientists are also investigating the biological functions of biomarkers (immune-related, mutation related and virus related) because the significance of these biomarkers could help improve current cancer prognoses. Cancer’s biomarkers are the basis for clinical diagnoses. More knowledge of such will ultimately contribute to developing more “personalized cancer medicine” in which better suited individually specific forms of treatment could be available.

More generally, scientists in the department investigate other areas of inquiry such as cancer etiology, cancer molecular epidemiology, cancer genetics and genomics, cancer molecular staging, anticancer drugs development, and cancer biotherapy.

Thanks to the dynamism of the research teams and the clinicians, the number of publications of high impact factor scientific peer-reviewed journals is constantly increasing. In 2015, a record 420 publications published by the CJC were Science Citation Indexed (SCI).

Funding Support
Scientific investigation at SYSUCC has been awarded various grants from national programs administered by the state council and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). In particular, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) is an organization directly affiliated with the State Council which provides funding for basic research and some applied research. The program identifies and fosters talented researchers in the realm of science and technology, which accelerates the progress of science and technology, and promotes socioeconomic development in China. The major programs applied by scientists in the SKL of Oncology in South China are:

-       the State Key Program of the NSFC - NSCF for Distinguished Young Scholars
-       the National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 programs)
-       the Major State Basic Research Development Program (973 programs)

SYSUCC scientists also take part in research programs funded by international institutions (American CMB fund, National Institute of Health). Within the past seven years, the SKL of Oncology in South China obtained over 215 million RMB funding hundreds of projects. In the year 2015, the total expenditure on funding alone equated to 114 million RMB with the assistance of the following notable research providers: the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Guangzhou Science & Technology Project and Guangdong Provincial Science & Technology Major Project.

International Collaboration
A collaborative laboratory has been set up since March 2004 with the Karolinska Institutet for research in immunotherapy, molecular biology of Epstein-Barr Virus and molecular epidemiology of cancer. The laboratory has 14 scientists, including 6 researchers from Karolinska Institutet and 8 researchers from Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center engaging in the project.

SYSUCC gains new partners every year in numerous countries all over the world, such as the INSERM in France, Harvard University and MD Anderson Cancer Center in America or the University of Birmingham in the UK.  SYSUCC welcomes all forms of collaboration in the fight against cancer. For more information about possible collaborations please contact our International Office (

Last update: June 2016

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