Amy H. Tang, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Cancer Biology

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology

Leroy T. Canoles Jr. Cancer Research Center

Harry T. Lester Hall 423
651 Colley Avenue
Norfolk, Virginia 23501
Office: (757) 446-5664


  • Tumor Biology and Cancer Metastasis
  • Advanced Cell Biology
  • Medical Molecular and cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Genetics and Innate Immunity
  • Biomedical Sciences Program


  • B.S., Fudan University
  • CUSBEA National Honor Program
  • Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
  • Postdoctoral Training, University of California at Berkeley

Academic Positions

2002 – 2009

  • Tenure-Track Assistant Professor
    Department of Surgery, Transplantation Biology
    Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
    Rochester, MN 55905, USA

2010 - Present

  • Tenure-Track Associate Professor
    Department of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology
    Eastern Virginia Medical School
    Norfolk, VA 23507, USA

Lab People and Photos

The 2010 AACR-PanCAN Innovative Grant Recipient: Dr. Amy Tang with Dr. Tyler Jacks, 2010 President of the AACR's, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. ©2010 AACR/Todd Buchanan.

Front Row: From left: Miss Lauren Siewertsz van Reesema from James Madison University (2013 CHKD-EVMS Summer Scholar); Miss Bridget N. Montgomery from the University of Virginia (Technician Assistant I); Mrs. Monicah Njogu from Seton Hall University  (EVMS 2nd-year PhD Graduate Student); Miss Zena Urban from the Boston University School of Medicine (EVMS 3rd-year PhD Graduate Student); and Miss Ting Chen (1st-year Medical Student at EVMS).

Second Row: Mr. John Fernan from the University of Vermont (2013 SPUR Student), Mr. Andrew J. Isbell from the United States Air Force Academy (EVMS 1st-year MS Graduate Student), Dr. Minglei Bian from Peking University (Postdoctoral Fellow); Dr. Xiaofei Gao from Fudan University (Postdoctoral Fellow); Dr. Amy Tang (the Principal Investigator).

From left: Mr. Oscar Gonzales from Wake Forest School of Medicine (Technician); Mr. Russell Wilson from VCU (summer SURP student), Dr. Xiaofei Gao from Fudan University (Postdoctoral Fellow), Mr. Bruce Knudson from Mayo Clinic (Surgical specialist), Dr. Minglei Bian from Peking University (Postdoctoral Fellow); Dr. Amy Tang (the Principal Investigator), Miss Sophia Blunt from William and Mary (summer undergraduate student), Dr. Vassilena Zheleva from the Dartmouth Medical School (a PGY3 Resident in General Surgery), Mr. Justin Odanga from Hampden-Sydney College (Graduate Student), Mrs. Monicah Njogu from EVMS (PhD Graduate Student), Miss Zena Urban from Boston University School of Medicine (PhD Graduate Student).

Front Row: From left: Dr. Xiaofei Gao from Fudan University (1st-year Postdoctoral Fellow); Miss. Elizaveta (Liza) Svyatova from ODU (EVMS 1st-year Graduate Student); Miss Bridget N. Montgomery from the University of Virginia (Technician Assistant I);  Mrs. Monicah Njogu from Seton Hall University  (EVMS 2nd-year PhD Graduate Student); Miss Zena Urban from the Boston University School of Medicine (EVMS 3rd-year PhD Graduate Student); and Miss Ting Chen (1st-year Medical Student at EVMS); Dr. Amy Tang (the Principal Investigator).

 Second Row: Mr. John Fernan from the University of Vermont (2013 SPUR Student), Dr. Minglei Bian from Peking University (Postdoctoral Fellow); Miss Lauren Siewertsz van Reesema from James Madison University (2013 CHKD-EVMS Summer Scholar); Mr. Andrew J. Isbell from the United States Air Force Academy (EVMS 2nd year MS Graduate Student). 


Postdoctoral Fellows


Dr. Minglei Bian
(September 1, 2010 – present)
  • B.S., Peking University
  • Ph.D., Peking University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, EVMS (09-01-2010 – present)


Phone: 757-446-5623


Xiaofei Gao
(August 2, 2012- present)
  • M.S,      YangZhou University (2004 – 2007)
  • Ph.D.,    Fudan University, China (2009 – 2012) 
  • Postdoctoral fellow, EVMS (08-02-2012 –  present)

Phone: 757-446-5623


Clinical Fellows


Dr. Vassilena Zheleva
(July 1, 2011 – present)
  • B.A.,   Colby College
  • M.D.,   Dartmouth Medical School
  • PGY3 Residency Training in General Surgery at EVMS

Phone: 757-446-5623


 Graduate Students


Miss Zena Urban
PhD graduate student
(August 1, 2011 – present)

  • B.S.,      West Virginia University
  • M.A.,      Boston University School of Medicine


Phone: 757-446-5623


Mrs. Monicah M. Njogu
PhD graduate student
(July 1, 2012 – Present)

  • B.S.,      East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania  (2006)
  • M.S.,      Seton Hall University , New Jersey (2009)
  • PhD,      EVMS  Norfolk, VA  (2011-present)

"Awarded a 2014-2015 UNCF-Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship, one of just 12 exceptional students whom such awards were given in the U.S. for 2014"

Phone: 757-446-5623


Robby Van Sciver
PhD Graduate Student
(May 2014 – present)

  • Research Specialist, University of Virginia (2009-2013)
  • Research Scientist, Ethos Pharmaceuticals (2006-2008)
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia (2005)

Phone: 757-446-5623
Email: VanSciRE@EVMS.EDU

Elizaveta Svyatova
PhD Graduate Student
(August 31, 2013 - present)

  • B.S.,      Old Dominion University
  • M.S.,     Old Dominion University/Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Ph.D.     EVMS (July 1, 2014 to present)

Phone:  757-446-5764/5623
Email 1:
Email 2:

Mr. Justin J. Odanga
MS graduate student
(July 1, 2012 – May 18, 2013)

  • B.S.,     Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA (2010)    
  • M.A.,     EVMS  Norfolk, VA  (2013) 




Mr. Andrew J. Isbell
MS graduate student
(July 1, 2013 – May 17, 2014)

  • B.S.,        United States Air Force Academy  USAFA, CO
                   and Truman State University, Kirksville, MO (2009)    
  • M.S.,       EVMS,  Norfolk, VA  (2014) 

Mrs. Jamie Eisner
MS graduate student
(May 1, 2014 to present)

  • B.S., Old Dominion University (2011)
  • M.S., University of Florida (2013)


Phone: 757-446-5764/5623



Miss Bridget N. Montgomery
(July 15, 2013 – present)

  • B.S., University of Virginia (UVa)


Phone: 757-446-5623/757-446-5764


Mr. Oscar A. Gonzales 
(July 5, 2011 – December 28, 2012)
  • B.S.,         Longwood University
  • B.S.,         Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Post-B.S.   Wake Forest University School of Medicine


Mr. John A. Crooks
(August 2, 2010 – May, 13, 2011)

  • B.S., University of California at Davis

Summer Undergraduate Students


Garrett Rushing
Summer Volunteer
Summer 2014

  • Bob Jones University (2014 Senior)
    Cell Biology Major
    Chemistry Minor

Drake Bishop
2014 EVMS-CHKD summer scholar
Summer 2014

  • Southside VA Community College (2010)
    Summa Cum Laude
    AAS General Studies
  • Hampden-Sydney College (2014)
    Summa Cum Laude
    Graduate with Honors in Biology
    BS Biology
    Minor in chemistry and classical studies

Chris Rowley
Summer volunteer
Summer 2014

  • James Madison University (2012)
    Philosophy major
    phi beta kappa
  • Old Dominion University (2014)

Lauren Siewertsz van Reesema, B.S.
2013 CHKD-EVMS Summer Scholar
Summer 2013

  • James Madison University (2013)

Ting Chen, M.S.
2013 Summer Student
Summer 2013

  • Brandeis University, B.S. In Biology (2007)
  • EVMS, M.S. In Biomedical Sciences (2012)
  • EVMS, M1 medical Student (2013)

John Edward Fernan
2013 EVMS SPUR Student
Summer 2013

  • University of Vermont

Ms. Sophia Blunt
Summer 2012

  • William and Mary University (Freshman)


Mr. Russell Wilson
Summer of 2012
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) (Senior)
  • Major:   Biochemistry


Miss. Kristin Sica
Summer of 2011
  • B.S., Rutgers University
  • M.A., Drexel College of Medicine
  • M.D., Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • (First Year Medical Student – M1)


Mr. Matthew Ambler
Summer of 2010
  • Yale University (Freshman)



Research Interests


Project I: Regulated Proteolysis in oncogenic ERBB/K-RAS-Mediated Tumorigenesis and Metastasis in human cancer

Dr. Tang's laboratory studies the RAS signal transduction pathway using multiple model organisms/systems including Drosophila, transgenic mice, human cancer cell lines and human cancer tissue specimens. As oncogenic RAS promotes the genesis of many human cancers, how best to contravene activated RAS signaling has been an intense area of investigation in the field of cancer biology for the past 30 years. Seven-In-Absentia (SINA), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, is an essential downstream component of the Drosophila RAS signal transduction pathway. The human homologue of SINA, SIAH, is a member of this evolutionarily highly conserved family of RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligases; however, the roles and regulation of SIAH-dependent proteolysis are not well understood in the context of RAS signal transduction in mammalian systems.

Dr. Tang's lab has accumulated evidence demonstrating the importance of proper SIAH function in mammalian K-RAS signaling. We show that by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of SIAH, and thus SIAH-mediated proteolysis, RAS-mediated neoplastic transformation and tumorigenesis can be effectively blocked in human cancer cells [Can Res 67(24):1798-810, 2007; JNCI 100(22):1606-29, 2008]. Furthermore, SIAH-deficient cells have reduced MAPK signaling, suggesting that SIAH might be involved in aberrant K-RAS signaling through a regulatory feedback loop mechanism. Thus, these studies provide an initial glimpse into the significance of the SIAH E3 ubiquitin ligase-regulated proteolysis in the K-RAS pathway during tumor initiation, progression and oncogenesis in human pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, invasive and metastatic breast cancer and hormonal-refractory prostate cancer.

Advancing understanding of the role of SIAH E3 ligases in K-RAS signaling and, more importantly, the potential to target SIAH as a novel new anti-K-RAS and anti-cancer target in the treatment of the most aggressive and the deadliest forms of human cancers represent exciting steps forward in the fields of K-RAS signaling, cancer biology and cancer therapy. Ultimately, we hope such SIAH-based anti-cancer therapies will lead to novel and efficacious treatments for human cancer patients, especially the ones with metastatic diseases.

Project II:   Innate Immunity and Cellular Defense

To understand how a host cell differentiates a pathogenic microbe from a nonpathogenic microorganism is a fundamental question in biology. Drosophila has an innate immune system that is similar to humans but is devoid of the complication of the adaptive immune system. We use the Drosophila as the model organism to study the molecular mechanism of how innate immunity is activated upon pathogen recognition. We found that the structural integrity of the sentinel receptors/innate sensors is modulated during infection and inflammation. We hypothesize that proteases release that is common during pathogen-host antagonism may provide an important cue for the host to distinguish a pathogenic versus a nonpathogenic microorganism. We are using transgenic fly models to demonstrate that protease release after pattern recognition provides a "tissue damage" signal that could alert host cells to the onset of endogenous tissue damage and exogenous pathogen invasion.


Project III:   Genetic Screens for Anti-Cancer Drug Resistance 

The development drug/chemical resistance is a recurring problem. There is an important need for us to understand the mechanisms by which drug/chemical resistance is acquired in multicellular organisms and cancers. We will carry out genetic screens in Drosophila for resistance to several key anticancer drugs that are prone to develop resistance. This effort, coupled with genomic and microarray analyses, should help to identify the alterations of key signaling pathways that could forecast and predict drug resistance development.

Research Grants Awarded

Ongoing Research Support

AACR 2010 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network- American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Innovative Grant "SIAH is a novel and effective anti-K-RAS drug target in pancreatic cancer" 
(AACR-PanCan #169458)
Principal Investigator: Amy H. Tang, Ph.D. 
07/01/2010 - 06/30/2013

DOD Department of Defense "Targeting SIAH E3 Ligase Downstream of the HER2/Neu/RAS Signaling Pathway to Block Highly Invasive Human Breast Cancer Tumorigenesis and Metastasis" (DOD-Idea Award-BC095305) 
Principal Investigator: Amy H. Tang, Ph.D. 
07/01/2010 - 06/30/2013

NIGMS "Regulated Proteolysis in the RAS Signal Transduction" 
(R01 GM 069922)
Principal Investigator: Amy H. Tang, Ph.D. 
05/01/2004 - 04/30/2011

NIH supplement "Regulated Proteolysis in the RAS Signal Transduction" (R01 GM 069922Z-05S1)
Principal Investigator: Amy H. Tang, Ph.D. 
09/30/2009 - 04/30/2011

NCI R01 "SIAH2-Dependent Proteolysis in Cell Migration, Tumor Growth and Cancer Metastasis"
(R01 CA140550)
Principal Investigator: Amy H. Tang, Ph.D.
07/01/2010 - 06/30/2015


Tang, A. H. (2011) Are you my friends or are you my enemies? Self/Nonself, Immune Recognition and Signaling. 2:3, 142-146(Volume 2 Issue 3, June - December 2011).

Schmidt, R. L., Rinaldo, F. M., Hesse, S. E., Hamada, M., Ortiz, Z., Beleford, D. T., Page-McCaw, A., Platt, J. L. and A. H. Tang. (2011) Protease-Dependent Activation of the Drosophila IMD Pathway in Response to Gram-Negative Bacterial Infection. Self/Nonself, Immune Recognition and Signaling 2, 34, 17882.

Podratz, J. L., Staff, N. P., Froemel, D., Wallner, A., Wabnig, F., Bieber, A. J., Tang, A. H. and A. J. Windebnk. (2011) Drosophila melanogaster: A new model to study Cisplatin-induced neurotoxicity Neurobiology of Diseases 43, 330-337.

Behling KC, A. H. Tang, Freydin B, Chervoneva I, Kadakia S, Schwartz GF, Rui H, Witkiewicz AK. (2010) Increased SIAH expression predicts DCIS progression to invasive carcinoma. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, November 19 issue, pp1254-1258.

Ahmed, A. U., Schmidt, R. L., Park, C. H., Reed, N. R., Hesse, S. E. Thomas, C. F., Molina, J. R., Deschamps, C., Aubry, M. C. and A. H. Tang. (2008) Effect of Disrupting Seven In Absentia Homolog 2 Function on Lung Cancer Cell Growth Journal National Cancer Institute 100, 1606-1629.

Schmidt, R. L., Park, C. H. Ahmed, A. U., Gundelach, J.H., Reed, N. R., Cheng, S., Knudsen, B. E. and A. H. Tang. (2007) Inhibition of RAS-Mediated Tumorigenesis by Targeting the downstream E3 Ubiquitin Ligase, SIAH. Cancer Research, 67, 11798-11810.

Schmidt, R. L., Trejo, T. R., Plummer, T. B. Platt, J. L. and A. H. Tang. (2008) The Infection-Induced Proteolysis of PGRP-LC Controls the IMD Activation and Melanization Cascades in Drosophila. FASEB J. 22, 918-929.

Schmidt, R. L., Rinaldo, F. M., Hesse, S. E., Hamada, M., Ortiz, Z., Beleford, D. T., Page-McCaw, A., Platt, J. L. and A. H. Tang. (2009). Protease-Dependent Activation of the Drosophila IMD Pathway in Response to Gram-Negative Bacterial Infection. Innate Immunity 1, 1-15.

TangA. H., G. J. Brunn, M. Cascalho and J. L. Platt. (2007) Endogenous pathway to SIRS, sepsis and related conditions. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 82, 282-285.

TangA. H. and J. L. Platt. (2007) Accommodation of grafts: implications for health and disease. Human Immunology 68, 645-651.

Reed, N. R., Schmidt, R. L., Smyrk, T. C., Qin, R. Chari, S. T., Sarr, M. G., Grande, J. P., Petersen, G. M and A. H. Tang. Predicting Pancreatic Cancer Patient Survival by Combining Clinical and Biomarkers and Tissue Microarrays (Manuscript in revision).

G. B. Johnson, G. J. Brunn, A. H. Tang, J. L. Platt (2003). Evolutionary Clues to the Functions of the Toll-like Family as Surveillance Receptors. Trends in Immunology 24, 19-24.

TangA. H., T. P. Neufeld, G. M. Rubin and H. -Arno J. Müller (2001). Transcriptional Regulation of Cytoskeletal Functions and Segmentation by a Novel Maternal Pair-Rule Gene, lilliputianDevelopment 128, 801-813.

T. P. Neufeld, A. H. Tang and G. M. Rubin (1998). A genetic screen to identify components of the sina signaling pathway in Drosophila eye development. Genetics 148, 277-286.

TangA. H., T. P. Neufeld, E. Kwan and G. M. Rubin (1997). PHYL acts to down-regulate TTK88, a transcriptional repressor of neuronal cell fates, by a SINA-dependent mechanism. Cell 90, 459-467.

G. M. Rubin, H. C. Chang, F. Karim, T. Laverty, N. R. Michaud, D. K. Morrison, I. Rebay, A. H. Tang, M. Therrien and D. A. Wassarman (1997). Signal transduction downstream of RAS in Drosophila. Cold Spring Habor Symp. on Quant. Biol. Volume LXII. 347-352.

TangA. H. and C.-P. D. Tu. (1995). Pentobarbital-induced changes in Drosophila glutathione S-transferase D21 mRNA stability: gstD21 mRNA stability. J Biol. Chem. 270, 13819-13825.

TangA. H. and C.-P. D. Tu. (1994) Biochemical characterization of Drosophila glutathione S-transferase D1 and D21: Drosophila DDT dehydrochlorinase J. Biol. Chem. 269, 27876-27884.

Z.-H. Zhang, H.-Z. Liu, H. Tang and Y.-D. You (1988) The Effect of hemoglobin on the fluidity of human erythrocyte membrane. Acta Biophysics Sinica 4, 129-133.