Faculty Profile, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan

Faculty Profiles

Cheng-Wen Wu, M.D., Ph.D.

Distinguished Investigator
National Institute of Cancer Research


Ph.D., Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University, USA, 1969
M.D., College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taiwan, 1964


  1. Visiting Professor, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA (2007)

  2. Visiting Professor, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA (2007)

  3. Visiting Professor, University of Colorado Cancer Center, Denver, USA (2007)

  4. Vallee Visiting Professor, Harvard University, Boston, USA (2001)

  5. Adjunct Professor, Department of Biochemistry, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan (2001-present)

  6. Distinguished Investigator, National Institute of Cancer Research, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan (1996-present)

  7. Adjunct Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan (1996-present)

  8. Founding President & Distinguished Investigator, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan (1996-2005)

  9. Founding Director, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan (1992-1995)

  10. Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (1992-present)

  11. Adjunct Professor, University of California, San Francisco, USA (1991-1996)

  12. Adjunct Professor, Graduate Institute of Life, National Defence Medical College, Taipei, Taiwan (1990-present)

  13. Catacosinos Professor for Cancer Research, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, SUNY at Stony Brook, USA (1980-1990)

  14. Visiting Professor, Pasteur Institute, France (1979-1980)

  15. Assistant, Associate & Full Professor, Department of Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA (1972-1978)


Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from neoplasia in the world as well as Taiwan. To better develop early diagnostic makers and therapeutic targets for lung cancer, Dr. Wu aims to understand the mechanisms of lung cancer initiation, invasion, and metastasis. Wus team found receptor tyrosine kinase such as Axl and EGFR are overexpressed in lung cancer. They are focusing how overexpressed Axl and EGFR activate transcriptional factors and microRNAs, leading to deregulated cell proliferation and invasion of lung cancer cells. They also identified several stem cell modulators irregularly expressed in lung cancer. They are studying how lung cancer through these modulators reactivates and hijacks dormant developmental programs in cells. Lung cancer exhibits gender difference since women are more likely than men to develop adenocarcinoma. Wus team is using both in vitro and in vivo models to study how sex steroid receptors interplay with environmental hormones to facilitate lung cancer progression.


Dr. Wu is best known for his work on the molecular mechanism of gene transcription. He presented the earliest biophysical evidence of the 4-step mechanism of RNA polymerase reaction, discovered the presence of intrinsic zinc in transcription, and demonstrated the regulation of the sigma cycle by nanosecond fluorescence spectroscopy, which were all important breakthroughs in the field of molecular biology. By developing a rapid-mixing photo-crosslinking technology, Wu had resolved the kinetics of protein-nucleic acid interactions and proved RNA polymerase could slide along the DNA until it finds a promoter. Wu also constructed a combined stopped-flow temperature-jump instrument to determine the allosteric transitions of lac repressor and C-AMP binding proteins. In 1983, Wu discovered the presence of zinc ions in eukaryotic transcription factor TFIIIA necessary for DNA binding and transcriptional activation, the first example for the class of proteins known as zinc finger DNA-binding proteins. In 1988, Wu returned to Taiwan to help advancing nation-wide biomedical research infrastructure and biotechnology development. Being an active leader in Taiwan biomedical community, Wu initiated numerous clinical training programs, formed the first working group for multi-centered clinical trials, conducted timely research on important and urgent health issues, and established peer-review system. Wu made many important contributions to the studies of the human cytomegalovirus infection, one of the most serious health threats to the Chinese population, with clinical significances. In recent years, due to the rising death rate from lung cancer in the world as well as Taiwan, Wu leads national program for lung cancer research. In this program, Wu spurs international collaborations not only with excellent results but also achieves national and international impacts. Wu is continuing his efforts to fight cancer and educate young scientists.


- Honorary Doctor of Science, National Yang Ming University, 2003
- Case Western Reserve University President's Award for Distinguished Alumni, 2002
- Achievement Award, Chinese Institute of Engineers, 2001
- Vallee Visiting Professor, Harvard University, 2001
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2000
- Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award, the Chinese American Professionals Association, 1998
- Honorary Professor, Beijing University, 1998
- Lifetime Achievement Award, the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America, 1997
- Science & Technology Award, Taiwanese-American Foundation, 1993
- Honorary Member, Chinese Society of Genetics, 1990
- Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 1988
- Scholar in Cancer Research, American Cancer Society, 1988
- Fellow, American Institute of Chemists, 1986
- Academician, Academia Sinica, 1984
- Catacosinos Professor Award for Cancer Research, 1980
- French-American Scholar Award, 1979
- Philippe Foundation Award, 1978
- Irma T. Hirschl Scientific Award, 1977
- NIH Career Development Award, 1972
- NIH Special Fellowship, 1972
- Sigma Xi Award, 1969


  • Tai KY, Shiah SG, Shieh YS, Kao YR, Chi CY, Huang E, Lee HS, Chang LC, Yang PC and Wu CW*. DNA methylation and histone modification regulate silencing of epithelial cell adhesion molecule for tumor invasion and progression. Oncogene, 26:3989-3997, 2007.

  • Chen PY, Chang WS, Chou RH, Lai YK, Lin SC, Chi CY and Wu CW*. Two non-homologous brain diseases-related genes, SERPINI1 and PDCD10, are tightly linked by an asymmetric bidirectional promoter in an evolutionarily conserved manner. BMC Mol Biol, 8:2, 2007.

  • Chang NT, Yang WK, Huang HC, Yeh KW and Wu CW*. The transcriptional activity of HERV-I LTR is negatively regulated by its cis-elements and wild type p53 tumor suppressor protein. J Biomed Sci, 14:211-222, 2007.

  • Sher YP, Chou CC, Chou RH, Wu HM, Wayne Chang WS, Chen CH, Yang PC, Wu CW, Yu CL, Peck K. Human kallikrein 8 protease confers a favorable clinical outcome in non-small cell lung cancer by suppressing tumor cell invasiveness. Cancer Res, 66:11763-11770, 2006.

  • Deng WP, Wu CC, Lee CC, Yang WK, Wang HE, Liu RS, Wei HJ, Gelovani JG, Hwang JJ, Yang DM, Fu YK and Wu CW. Serial in vivo imaging of the lung metastases model and gene therapy using HSV1-tk and ganciclovir. J Nucl Med, 47:877-884, 2006.

  • Shieh YS, Lai CY, Kao YR, Shiah SG, Chu YW, Lee HS, Wu CW*. Expression of axl in lung adenocarcinoma and correlation with tumor progression. Neoplasia, 7:1058-1064, 2005.

  • Sher YP, Shih JY, Yang PC, Roffler SR, Chu YW, Wu CW, Yu CL and Peck K. Prognosis of non-small cell lung cancer patients by detecting circulating cancer cells in the peripheral blood with multiple marker genes, Clin Cancer, 11:173-179, 2005.


  1. USP#02013926.7 "Metastasis-associated genes" Chen JLW, Yang PC, Peck K, Hong TM, Yang SC, Wu CW; 2002.

  2. USP#02013927.5-2404 "Collapsin Response Mediator Protein-1 as Tumor Metastasis Marker" Chen JLW, Yang PC, Peck K, Hong TM, Yang SC, Wu CW, Shih JY; 2002.

  3. ECP#99104051.0-2116 "Methods for Detecting Differentially Expressed Genes" Peck K, Chen JLW, Yang PC, Wu R, Chang F, Chu YW, Wu CW; 1999.

  4. US#09/073,025 "Alkyl N-[3-(Acridin-9-YL) Amino-5-Hydroxymethyl] Phenylcarbamates" Su TL, Chou TC, Wu FYH, Wu CW; 1998.