Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

Xianxin Hua, MD, PHD

Xianxin Hua, MD, PhD is Professor of Cancer Biology, Department of Cancer Biology, Abramson Cancer Research Institute, Institute of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Hua and his team found that menin, a protein encoded by the MEN1 gene that is mutated in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome, is crucial for suppressing endocrine cells including insulin-secreting beta cells via epigenetically repressing multiple pro-proliferative genes. His group has also helped to elucidate the crystal structure of menin and its complex with other partners, revealing menin as a scaffold protein interacting with multiple partners and harboring a potential druggable deep pocket. His laboratory has discovered that inhibition of menin reverses pre-existing hyperglycemia.

To develop better small molecule menin inhibitors to increase beta cell regeneration, Dr. Hua will optimize and synthesize improved compounds based on the crystal structure of menin and test the impact of these compounds on increasing proliferation of beta cells. This class of menin inhibitors will likely represent an entirely new and effective drug.

Dr. Hua received his medical degree from Hubei Medical College in China, and his PhD from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He did his postdoctoral research at the Whitehead Institute at M.I.T. Dr. Hua is a recipient of multiple prestigious awards for his biomedical research, including Howard Temin Award, Burroughs Wellcome Career Development Award, and Rita Allen Scholar.

Dates to Know

April 5, 2017
Letter of Intent Deadline

LOI Guidelines
Download the Application Guidelines (PDF)

May 31, 2017
Full Application Deadline (For those invited)

December 2017
Awardees Notified

Harrington Project

The Harrington Discovery Institute is the nonprofit arm of the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, an international initiative supporting breakthrough research by physician-scientists. The Project is a new and powerful approach to address some of the challenges hindering advancement of medicine today.

The Harrington Grant is an important part of the overall pharmaceutical research initiative created by The Harrington Project.

For Questions

For questions about the Scholar-Innovator grants or the application process, please email