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


Papadakis A.I, Sun C., Knijnenburg TA, Xue Y., Grernrum W., Holzel M.,Nijkamp W., Wessels LF, Beijersbergen R.L, Bernards R. et al..  2015.  SMARCE1 suppresses EGFR expression and controls responses to MET and ALK inhibitors in lung cancer. Cell research.


Huang S.  2014.  When correlation and causation coincide.. Bioessays. 36(1):1-2.


Panigrahy D, Kalish BT, Huang S, Bielenberg DR, Le HD, Yang J, Edin ML, Lee CR, Benny O, Mudge DK et al..  2013.  Epoxyeicosanoids promote organ and tissue regeneration.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110(33):13528-33.

Heinäniemi M, Nykter M, Kramer R, Wienecke-Baldacchino A, Sinkkonen L, Zhou JXu, Kreisberg R, Kauffman SA, Huang S, Shmulevich I.  2013.  Gene-pair expression signatures reveal lineage control.. Nat Methods. 10(6):577-83.

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. 32:423-48.

Huang S, Kauffman S.  2013.  How to escape the cancer attractor: rationale and limitations of multi-target drugs. Semin Cancer Biol. 23:270-8.

Huang S.  2013.  Hybrid T-helper cells: stabilizing the moderate center in a polarized system. PLoS Biol. 11:e1001632.

Pisco A.O, Brock A., Zhou J., Moor A., Mojtahedi M., Jackson D., Huang S.  2013.  Non-Darwinian dynamics in therapy-induced cancer drug resistance. Nat Commun. 4:2467.

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.


Torres-Sosa C, Huang S, Aldana M.  2012.  Criticality is an emergent property of genetic networks that exhibit evolvability.. PLoS Comput Biol. 8(9):e1002669.

Panigrahy D, Edin ML, Lee CR, Huang S, Bielenberg DR, Butterfield CE, Barnés CM, Mammoto A, Mammoto T, Luria A et al..  2012.  Epoxyeicosanoids stimulate multiorgan metastasis and tumor dormancy escape in mice.. J Clin Invest. 122(1):178-91.

Huang S, Holzel M., Knijnenburg T, Schlicker A., Roepman P., McDermott U.,Garnett M., Grernrum W., Sun C., Prahallad A. et al..  2012.  MED12 controls the response to multiple cancer drugs through regulation of TGF-beta receptor signaling. Cell. 151:937-50.

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. 34:149-57.

DeGracia DJ, Huang Z-F, Huang S.  2012.  A nonlinear dynamical theory of cell injury.. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 32(6):1000-13.

Ho HJ, Lin TI, Chang HH, Haase SB, Huang S, Pyne S.  2012.  Parametric modeling of cellular state transitions as measured with flow cytometry.. BMC Bioinformatics. 13 Suppl 5:S5.

Zhou JX, Aliyu MD, Aurell E, Huang S.  2012.  Quasi-potential landscape in complex multi-stable systems. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society.

Halley JD, Smith-Miles K, Winkler DA, Kalkan T, Huang S, Smith A.  2012.  Self-organizing circuitry and emergent computation in mouse embryonic stem cells.. Stem Cell Res. 8(2):324-33.

Huang S.  2012.  Tumor progression: Chance and necessity in Darwinian and Lamarckian somatic (mutationless) evolution. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology.


Huang S.  2011.  On the intrinsic inevitability of cancer: from foetal to fatal attraction.Semin Cancer Biol. 21:183-99.


Pedrioli PG, Eng JK, Hubley R, Vogelzang M, Deutsch EW, Raught B, Pratt B,Nilsson E, Angeletti RH, Apweiler R et al..  2004.  A common open representation of mass spectrometry data and its application to proteomics research. Nat Biotechnol. 22:1459-66.