Sui Huang, MD, PhD


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(206) 732-1208


Dr. Sui Huang is a molecular and cell biologist with a strong background in theoretical biology. He has devoted his research to understanding the very phenomenon of cancer from a complex systems perspective. Life scientists now readily acknowledge that the “whole is more than the sum of its parts” but the question is: What exactly is the “more” that we need in order to understand the “whole”? Can this abstract philosophical notion be reduced to a rigorous formal concept and concrete molecular entities? Pursuing this question has guided Dr. Huang‘s research in cancer and cell biology over the past decade.  Before joining the ISB in fall 2011, Dr. Huang held faculty positions at the University of Calgary (Institute of Biocomplexity and Informatics), where he helped establish biocomplexity as a discipline in research and teaching, and at Harvard Medical School (Children’s Hospital) where he obtained first experimental evidence for the existence of high-dimensional attractors in mammalian gene regulatory networks.

Sui Huang grew up in Geneva and Zurich. He received his MD degree from the University of Zurich and obtained thereafter, as the first recipient of the PhD-Program-for-Physicians Award of the Swiss National Science Foundation, his PhD in molecular biology and physical chemistry for work on interferons. As a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston he investigated tumor angiogenesis and cell growth control. In that period he also studied dynamical systems through his affiliation with the New England Complex Systems Institute.

Seeing how both interferons and anti-angiogenic agents have failed to live up to their celebrated promise of curing cancer has had a lasting impact on Dr. Huang’s views. The humbling recognition of the profound complexity of the living state fostered the desire to overcome the orthodoxy of reductionist, monocausal and deterministic thinking that prevailed in biomedicine and to put to use his knowledge of complex systems theory in his experimental research. Time was ripe in the late ’90s because the arrival of the “omics technologies” and systems biology paved the way towards this interdisciplinary approach. With his move to the ISB, Dr. Huang continues to unite experiment and theory to gain insights in the essence of multi-cellularity and cancer.

MD, University of Zurich

PhD, Molecular Biology and Physical Chemistry, University of Zurich

Molecular and cell biology, cancer biology, gene regulatory networks and theory of complex systems


He, Yuqing, Juanjuan Lin, Yuanlin Ding, Guodong Liu, Yanhong Luo, Mingyuan Huang, Chengkai Xu, et al. 2015. “A Systematic Study on Dysregulated microRNAs in Cervical Cancer Development.” Int J Cancer, May. doi:10.1002/ijc.29618. Cite
Pisco, A. O., and S. Huang. 2015. “Non-Genetic Cancer Cell Plasticity and Therapy-Induced Stemness in Tumour Relapse: ’What Does Not Kill Me Strengthens Me’.” Br J Cancer 112 (May): 1725–32. doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.146. Cite
Papadakis, A. I., C. Sun, T. A. Knijnenburg, Y. Xue, W. Grernrum, M. Holzel, W. Nijkamp, et al. 2015. “SMARCE1 Suppresses EGFR Expression and Controls Responses to MET and ALK Inhibitors in Lung Cancer.” Cell Research, February. Cite
Grosse-Wilde, Anne, Aymeric Fouquier d’Hérouël, Ellie McIntosh, Gökhan Ertaylan, Alexander Skupin, Rolf E. Kuestner, Antonio Del Sol, K. A. Walters, and S. Huang. 2015. “Stemness of the Hybrid Epithelial/Mesenchymal State in Breast Cancer and Its Association with Poor Survival.” PLoS One 10: e0126522. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126522. Cite
Hu, Ting, Xiong Li, Qinghua Zhang, Kecheng Huang, Yao Jia, Ru Yang, Fangxu Tang, Qiang Tian, Ding Ma, and Shuang Li. 2015. “Could the Extent of Lymphadenectomy Be Modified by Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Cervical Cancer? A Large-Scale Retrospective Study.” PLoS One 10: e0123539. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123539. Cite


Huang, S. 2014. “When Correlation and Causation Coincide.” Bioessays 36 (January): 1–2. doi:10.1002/bies.201370003. Cite
Brownstein, Catherine A., Alan H. Beggs, Nils Homer, Barry Merriman, Timothy W. Yu, Katherine C. Flannery, Elizabeth T. DeChene, et al. 2014. “An International Effort towards Developing Standards for Best Practices in Analysis, Interpretation and Reporting of Clinical Genome Sequencing Results in the CLARITY Challenge.” Genome Biol 15: R53. doi:10.1186/gb-2014-15-3-r53. Cite
Krishna, Abhimanyu, Maria Biryukov, Christophe Trefois, Paul M. A. Antony, Rene Hussong, Jake Lin, Merja Heinäniemi, et al. 2014. “Systems Genomics Evaluation of the SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cell Line as a Model for Parkinson’s Disease.” BMC Genomics 15: 1154. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1154. Cite


Huang, S. 2013. “Genetic and Non-Genetic Instability in Tumor Progression: Link between the Fitness Landscape and the Epigenetic Landscape of Cancer Cells.” Cancer Metastasis Rev 32 (3-4): 423–48. Cite
Huang, S. 2013. “Hybrid T-Helper Cells: Stabilizing the Moderate Center in a Polarized System.” PLoS Biol 11 (8): e1001632. Cite
Huang, S., and S. Kauffman. 2013. “How to Escape the Cancer Attractor: Rationale and Limitations of Multi-Target Drugs.” Semin Cancer Biol 23 (4): 270–78. Cite
Panigrahy, Dipak, Brian T. Kalish, S. Huang, Diane R. Bielenberg, Hau D. Le, Jun Yang, Matthew L. Edin, et al. 2013. “Epoxyeicosanoids Promote Organ and Tissue Regeneration.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110 (August): 13528–33. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311565110. Cite
Heinäniemi, Merja, Matti Nykter, Roger Kramer, Anke Wienecke-Baldacchino, Lasse Sinkkonen, Joseph Xu Zhou, Richard Kreisberg, Stuart A. Kauffman, S. Huang, and Ilya Shmulevich. 2013. “Gene-Pair Expression Signatures Reveal Lineage Control.” Nat Methods 10 (June): 577–83. doi:10.1038/nmeth.2445. Cite
Wang, K., Y. Yuan, H. Li, J. H. Cho, D. Huang, L. Gray, S. Qin, and D. J. Galas. 2013. “The Spectrum of Circulating RNA: A Window into Systems Toxicology.” Toxicol Sci 132 (2): 478–92. Cite
Huang, S. 2013. “When Peers Are Not Peers and Don’t Know It: The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Peer-Review.” BioEssays : News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, February. Cite
Farrah, T., E. W. Deutsch, M. R. Hoopmann, J. L. Hallows, Z. Sun, C. Y. Huang, and R. L. Moritz. 2013. “The State of the Human Proteome in 2012 as Viewed through PeptideAtlas.” J Proteome Res 12 (1): 162–71. Cite
Argyropoulos, C., K. Wang, S. McClarty, D. Huang, J. Bernardo, D. Ellis, T. Orchard, D. Galas, and J. Johnson. 2013. “Urinary MicroRNA Profiling in the Nephropathy of Type 1 Diabetes.” PloS One 8 (1): e54662. Cite
Cromie, G. A., K. E. Hyma, C. L. Ludlow, C. Garmendia-Torres, T. L. Gilbert, P. May, A. A. Huang, A. M. Dudley, and J. C. Fay. 2013. “Genomic Sequence Diversity and Population Structure of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Assessed by RAD-Seq.” G3 (Bethesda) 3 (12): 2163–71. Cite
Pisco, A. O., A. Brock, J. Zhou, A. Moor, M. Mojtahedi, D. Jackson, and S. Huang. 2013. “Non-Darwinian Dynamics in Therapy-Induced Cancer Drug Resistance.” Nat Commun 4: 2467. Cite


Farrah, T., E. W. Deutsch, M. R. Hoopmann, J. L. Hallows, Z. Sun, C. Y. Huang, and R. L. Moritz. 2012. “The State of the Human Proteome in 2012 as Viewed through PeptideAtlas.” Journal of Proteome Research, December. Cite
Huang, S., M. Holzel, T. Knijnenburg, A. Schlicker, P. Roepman, U. McDermott, M. Garnett, et al. 2012. “MED12 Controls the Response to Multiple Cancer Drugs through Regulation of TGF-Beta Receptor Signaling.” Cell 151 (5): 937–50. Cite
Koboldt, D. C., R. S. Fulton, M. D. McLellan, H. Schmidt, J. Kalicki-Veizer, J. F. McMichael, L. L. Fulton, et al. 2012. “Comprehensive Molecular Portraits of Human Breast Tumours.” Nature, September. Cite
Litvak, V., A. V. Ratushny, A. E. Lampano, F. Schmitz, A. C. Huang, A. Raman, A. G. Rust, A. Bergthaler, J. D. Aitchison, and A. Aderem. 2012. “A FOXO3-IRF7 Gene Regulatory Circuit Limits Inflammatory Sequelae of Antiviral Responses.” Nature, September. Cite
Zhou, J. X., M. D. Aliyu, E. Aurell, and S. Huang. 2012. “Quasi-Potential Landscape in Complex Multi-Stable Systems.” Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society, August. Cite
DeGracia, Donald J., Zhi-Feng Huang, and S. Huang. 2012. “A Nonlinear Dynamical Theory of Cell Injury.” J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 32 (June): 1000–1013. doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2012.10. Cite
Huang, S. 2012. “Tumor Progression: Chance and Necessity in Darwinian and Lamarckian Somatic (mutationless) Evolution.” Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, May. Cite
Chen, L. Y., K. C. Wei, A. C. Huang, K. Wang, C. Y. Huang, D. Yi, C. Y. Tang, D. J. Galas, and L. E. Hood. 2012. “RNASEQR–a Streamlined and Accurate RNA-Seq Sequence Analysis Program.” Nucleic Acids Research 40 (6): e42. Cite
Halley, J. D., K. Smith-Miles, D. A. Winkler, T. Kalkan, S. Huang, and A. Smith. 2012. “Self-Organizing Circuitry and Emergent Computation in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells.” Stem Cell Res 8 (March): 324–33. doi:10.1016/j.scr.2011.11.001. Cite
Huang, S. 2012. “The Molecular and Mathematical Basis of Waddington’s Epigenetic Landscape: A Framework for Post-Darwinian Biology?” BioEssays : News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology 34 (2): 149–57. Cite
Panigrahy, Dipak, Matthew L. Edin, Craig R. Lee, S. Huang, Diane R. Bielenberg, Catherine E. Butterfield, Carmen M. Barnés, et al. 2012. “Epoxyeicosanoids Stimulate Multiorgan Metastasis and Tumor Dormancy Escape in Mice.” J Clin Invest 122 (January): 178–91. doi:10.1172/JCI58128. Cite
Ho, Hsiu J., Tsung I. Lin, Hannah H. Chang, Steven B. Haase, S. Huang, and Saumyadipta Pyne. 2012. “Parametric Modeling of Cellular State Transitions as Measured with Flow Cytometry.” BMC Bioinformatics 13 Suppl 5: S5. doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S5-S5. Cite
Torres-Sosa, Christian, S. Huang, and Maximino Aldana. 2012. “Criticality Is an Emergent Property of Genetic Networks That Exhibit Evolvability.” PLoS Comput Biol 8: e1002669. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002669. Cite
Wang, K., H. Li, Y. Yuan, A. Etheridge, Y. Zhou, D. Huang, P. Wilmes, and D. Galas. 2012. “The Complex Exogenous RNA Spectra in Human Plasma: An Interface with Human Gut Biota?” PloS One 7 (12): e51009. Cite


Huang, S. 2011. “On the Intrinsic Inevitability of Cancer: From Foetal to Fatal Attraction.” Semin Cancer Biol 21 (3): 183–99. Cite


Weber, J. A., D. H. Baxter, S. Zhang, D. Y. Huang, K. How Huang, M. Jen Lee, D. J. Galas, and K. Wang. 2010. “The MicroRNA Spectrum in 12 Body Fluids.” Clin Chem 56 (11): 1733–41. Cite


Peterson, A., L. Hohmann, L. Huang, B. Kim, J. K. Eng, and D. B. Martin. 2009. “Analysis of RP-HPLC Loading Conditions for Maximizing Peptide Identifications in Shotgun Proteomics.” J Proteome Res 8 (8): 4161–68. Cite
Huang, A. C., L. Hu, S. A. Kauffman, W. Zhang, and I. Shmulevich. 2009. “Using Cell Fate Attractors to Uncover Transcriptional Regulation of HL60 Neutrophil Differentiation.” BMC Syst Biol 3: 20. Cite


True, L., I. Coleman, S. Hawley, C. Y. Huang, D. Gifford, R. Coleman, T. M. Beer, et al. 2006. “A Molecular Correlate to the Gleason Grading System for Prostate Adenocarcinoma.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103 (29): 10991–96. Cite


Pedrioli, P. G., J. K. Eng, R. Hubley, M. Vogelzang, E. W. Deutsch, B. Raught, B. Pratt, et al. 2004. “A Common Open Representation of Mass Spectrometry Data and Its Application to Proteomics Research.” Nat Biotechnol 22 (11): 1459–66. Cite


Lander, E. S., L. M. Linton, B. Birren, C. Nusbaum, M. C. Zody, J. Baldwin, K. Devon, et al. 2001. “Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome.” Nature 409 (6822): 860–921. Cite