Rui Xiong, PhD

Assistant Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology

The Xiong lab is focused on the structure-based design of bioactive molecules to modulate disease-causing proteins or genes. We use modern molecular biology tools to develop biochemical, biophysical, and cellular assays to screen and optimize molecules for various therapeutic targets. Our projects also heavily utilize X-ray crystallography and computational modeling to guide molecule design. Two novel molecules developed from this pipeline successfully entered human clinical trials for treating advanced breast cancer (NCT03201913: Xiong R., et al., J Med Chem. 2016, 59, 219-237; NCT03455270: Xiong R., et al., J Med Chem, 2017, 60, 1325-1342). Current research is focused on the newly NIH RO1-funded project to develop potent SARS-COV-2 PLpro inhibitors.

We are also interested in developing novel technologies to selectively activate therapeutically relevant proteins. Traditional drug discovery research has been focused on inhibiting disease-driving proteins, while chemical tools for activating disease-causing proteins are lacking. We are interested in developing tools to study and mimic how nature selectively activates gene transcription.

Education & Post Graduate Training: 

Postdoctoral training, UICentre for Drug Discovery, 2019
PhD, Medicinal Chemistry, University of Illinois Chicago, 2016
BS, Medicinal Chemistry, Tianjin University, 2011

Areas of Research: 
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Bioassays
  • Drug Discovery & Development
  • Gene regulation

Select Publications


Principe DR, Xiong R, Li Y, et al. "XP-524 is a dual-BET/EP300 inhibitor that represses oncogenic KRAS and potentiates immune checkpoint inhibition in pancreatic cancer." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022;119(4). PMCID: PMC8795568  PMID: 35064087
Shen Z, Ratia K, Cooper L, et al. "Design of SARS-CoV-2 PLpro Inhibitors for COVID-19 Antiviral Therapy Leveraging Binding Cooperativity." J Med Chem. 2022;65(4):2940-2955. PMCID: PMC8547495  PMID: 34665619


Cooper L, Schafer A, Li Y, et al. "Screening and Reverse-Engineering of Estrogen Receptor Ligands as Potent Pan-Filovirus Inhibitors." J Med Chem. 2020;63(19):11085-11099. PMCID: PMC7904233  PMID: 32886512


Xiong R, Zhao J, Gutgesell LM, et al. "Novel Selective Estrogen Receptor Downregulators (SERDs) Developed against Treatment-Resistant Breast Cancer." J Med Chem. 2017;60(4):1325-1342. PMCID: PMC5786431  PMID: 28117994


Xiong R, Patel HK, Gutgesell LM, et al. "Selective Human Estrogen Receptor Partial Agonists (ShERPAs) for Tamoxifen-Resistant Breast Cancer." J Med Chem. 2016;59(1):219-237. PMCID: PMC4779956  PMID: 26681208