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Experimental Research

State Key Laboratory (SKL) of Oncology in South China

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

The State Key Laboratory (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 current director is Prof. Yi-Xin Zeng, and the director of the academic committee is Prof. Bo-Qin Qiang, both members of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in China, especially for urban residents. In particular, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), also referenced as the “Cantonese cancer”, has an unusually high incidence rate in South China, especially in Guangdong area, which is why conquering NPC is one of the major task of this laboratory. Scientists are also investigating the Biological functions of biomarkers (immune-related, mutation related and virus related) because the clinical significance of these biomarkers is helpful for cancer prognosis. Cancers biomarkers are a basis for clinical diagnosis and ultimately will contribute to develop “personalized cancer medicine” with individual-specific approach for treatment. From a more general point of view, scientists in SYSUCC investigate 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 publication in high impact factor scientific peer-reviewed journals constantly increased over the past 5 year, to reach a total of 253 publications recorded in SCI journals in 2012. During the period from 2005 to 2012, SYSUCC recorded 874 SCI publications including from journals such as Nature Genet, J Clin Invest, J Clin Oncol, Hepatology, Blood,Cancer Res, Oncogene, Clin Cancer Res, Leukemia, J Virol, J Biol Chem, Lancet Oncol, J Natl Cancer Inst, Gut, J.Hepatol, Cell Res., Autophagy, Mol Ther, Adv Cancer Res. 

Funding Support

Scientific investigation in SYSUCC has been awarded with 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 to the State Council which provides funding for basic research and some of applied research, identifies and fosters talented researchers in the realm of science and technology, accelerates the progress of science and technology, and promotes the 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 Program)
-       the Major State Basic Research Development Program (973 Program)
SYSU scientists also took part in research programs funded by international institutions (American CMB fund, National Institute of Health…). Within the past five years, the SKL of Oncology in South China obtained about a 100 Million RMB in funding through more than 300 projects funded by the above mentioned programs. 

In the year 2012, the funding for the research at the SYSUCC was about 110 Milliom RMB for 200 projects. 


Staff and students in the SKL

-        36 Researchers (13 professors, 8 associate professors, 15 assistant professors)

-        28 technicians
-        11 post-doctorate
-        74 PhD students
-        54 Master degree students


International Collaboration

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

Moreover, the SYSUCC gains new partners every year in numerous countries all over the world, such as the INSERM in France, the Harvard University and MD Anderson Cancer Center in America or the University of Birmingham in the UK.  

Last Update: October 2014

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