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Huansheng Cao

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University
DKU Faculty


Dr. Cao studies and teaches computational and experimental systems biology, which is the holistic operation of cellular life in response to environment. This is his research integration with separate training in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, bioinformatics and systems biology, and environmental science.

[Undergraduate and Graduate students in biology, data science, computer science, and chemistry who are highly motivated in research and publication are welcome to join the Cao group.]

BEL: Biology = Life x Environment.

Specifically, the Cao lab seeks to develop new theories on BEL at the systems level, which is computational and experimental systems biology operating with external environment. In the theoretic dimension, life is a structured framework organized and regulated in such a way that it responds to internal and external perturbations in a systems manner. But the underlying provisioning of mass and energy are chemical and dictated by thermodynamics laws and ultimately governed/constrained by physics laws (e.g., quantum physics).

Therefore, the theory development is modeling the holistic operation of cellular life metabolic model-based multi-omics integration, toward understanding the holistic operations of cellular metabolism in various environment. The metabolic model is genome-scale metabolic network. A good start has been made with a highly accessed publication in Nature Communications, which develops new mathematical representation of metabolic network and its regulation.

The Cao Lab now focuses on three areas of research:

  • Brain cancer: Glioblastoma heterogeneity and mechanism unraveled with multi single-cell omics
  • AI-based drug repurposing for emerging human pathogens
  • Systems biology evolution of bacterial extremophiles under global warming
  • Systems biology mechanism of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms

Li, G., Liu, L., Du, W. et al. Local flux coordination and global gene expression regulation in metabolic modeling. Nat Commun 14, 5700 (2023).

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Duke Kunshan University · 2020 - Present DKU Faculty

Education, Training & Certifications

Fordham University · 2012 Ph.D.