Bin Xu

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University, 2004
M.S., Physical Chemistry, Fudan University, 1992
B.S., Chemistry, Fudan University, Shanghai, 1989


  • 2011 – present: Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • 2005 – 2011: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
  • 1993-1995: Instructor, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Shanghai Medical University (now Fudan University), Shanghai

Grant Reviewer Panelist:

  • Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund, Virginia Center on Aging; Alzheimer’s Association; American Heart Association (Basic Cell, Proteins & Crystallography 2); Commonwealth Health Research Board (CHRB); Florida Department of Health Biomedical Research Programs ; NIH Center for Scientific Review Study Section Early Career Reviewer

Journal Reviewer:

ACS Chemical Biology (ACS press)
ACS Chemical Neuroscience (ACS press)
Aging (Rapamycin press)
Biochemistry (ACS press)
Biochemical Pharmacology (Elsevier press)
Cell Chemical Biology (Cell press)
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (Springer press)
Current Medicinal Chemistry (Bentham Science press)
Frontiers in Endocrinology (Frontiers press)
Journal of Biological Chemistry (ASBMB press)
Journal of Neurochemistry (Wiley press)
Molecules (MDPI press)
Molecular Pharmacology (ASPET press)
Oncotarget (Rapamycin press)
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (US NAS press)
Protein & Peptide Letters (Bentham Science press)
Scientific Reports (Nature press)

Editorial Board Members

Current Obesity Research & Therapy (Bentham Science)             
Medicine (Metabolic Disorders Section. Wolters Kluwer)

Selected Awards 

  • 2017 - Alzheimer's Research Award, Virginia General Assembly
    2017 – International Union of Pharmacology Invited Plenary Speaker
  • 2017 – Virginia Tech Gamma Sigma Delta Teaching Award of Merit
  • 2017 – ASBMB Annual Meeting Speaker
  • 2017 – Virginia Tech “Teacher of the Week”
    2016 – Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation Grant Renewal
  • 2016 – Commonwealth Health Research Board Grant
  • 2015 – Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund
  • 2015 – Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation Grant
  • 2009 – Finn Wold Awardee – The Protein Society
  • 2009 – “Papers of The Week” – The Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • 2006 – Future Faculty Fellows (FFF) – Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)/University of Washington

Courses Taught

  • BCHM 5224 – Protein Structure and Function
  • BCHM 4124 – Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Program Focus

The major theme of research in our laboratory focuses on protein-ligand interactions, protein misfolding and amyloid diseases and discovery and mechanisms of small molecule inhibitors (including natural compounds). We use interdisciplinary approaches including biochemistry, biophysics/structural biology, chemistry, molecular and cell biology, and in vivo animal studies with a variety of techniques such as high throughput screening, protein and inhibitor design. Systems of studies focus on applications to diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative (Alzheimer’s disease) problems.

Currently our lab is supported by grants from the Commonwealth Health Research Board (CHRB), Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation, and Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund (Virginia Center on Aging). We have several projects under development (see below) and a number of national grants are pending. We welcome highly motivated young scientists for stimulating and productive collaboration and training.

Our lab is an active member of Biochemistry graduate program (home program), Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery (VTCDD), and Translational Obesity Research Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH), and newly established School of Neuroscience.

Current Projects

  1. Discovery and mechanisms of small molecule inhibitors against protein amyloid diseases (amylin and tau)
  2. Structure, function, and mechanistic studies of a newly discovered exercise hormone, irisin, that fights obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Xu's PubMed Site

Selected Publications (*corresponding author)

  • Wang Z, Manca M, Foutz A, Camacho MV, Raymond GJ, Race B, Orru CD, Shen P, Lang Y, Dang J, Adornato A, Williams K, Maurer NR, Li B, Gambetti P, Xu B, Surewicz W, Petersen RB, Dong X, Appleby BS, Caughey B, Cui L, Kong Q, Zou W. Early Preclinical Detection of Prions in the Skin of Prion-Infected Animals. Nat. Commun. 2019, 10(1), 247.
  • Luo J, Wang A, Zhen W, Wang Y, Si H, Jia Z, Alkhalidy H, Cheng Z, Gilbert ER, Xu B, Liu D. Phytonutrient Genistein is a Survival Factor for Pancreatic beta-Cells via GPR30-Mediated Mechanism. J. Nutr. Biochem. 2018. 58, 59-70.
  • He L, Jiang Y, Liu K, Gomez-Murcia V, Ma X, Torrecillas A, Chen Q, Zhu X, Lesnefsky E, Gomez-Fernandez, J, Xu B, Zhang S. Insights into the Impact of Membrane-Anchoring Moiety on the Biological Activities of Bivalent Compounds as Potential Neuroprotectants for Alzheimer’s Disease. J. Med. Chem. 2018. 61, 777-790.
  • Wu L, Velander P, Liu D, Xu B.* Olive Component Oleuropein Promotes Beta-Cell Insulin Secretion and Protects Beta-Cells from Amylin Amyloid Induced Cytotoxicity. Biochemistry. 2017, 56, 5035-5039
  • Velander P, Wu L, Henderson F, Zhang S, Bevan DR, Xu B.* Natural Product-Based Amyloid Inhibitors. Biochem. Pharmacol. 2017, 139, 40-55.
  • Zhang L, Qiu W, Crooke S, Li Y, Abid A, Xu B, Finn MG, Lin F. Development of Autologous C5 Vaccine Nanoparticles to Reduce Intravascular Hemolysis in vivo. ACS Chem. Biol. 2017, 12, 539-547.
  • Wu L, Xu B.* Using thermogenic beige cells to identify biologically active small molecule leads and peptides. Methods Mol. Biol. 2017, 1566, 203-212.
  • Wang A, Luo J, Moore W, Alkhalidy H, Wu L, Zhang J, Zhen W, Suh K, Clegg DJ, Xu B, Cheng Z, McMillan RP, Hulver MW, Liu D. GPR30 Regulates Diet-induced Adiposity in Female Mice and Adipogenesis in vitro. Sci. Rep. 2016, 6, 34302.
  • Velander P, Wu L, Ray WK, Helm RF, Xu B.* Amylin amyloid inhibition by flavonoid baicalein: key roles of its vicinal dihydroxyl groups of the catechol moiety. Biochemistry. 2016, 55, 4255-4258. equal authorship.
  • Zhai L, Wu L, Li F, Burnham R, Pizarro JC, Xu B.* A rapid method for refolding cell surface receptors and ligands. Sci. Rep. 2016, 6, 26482. equal authorship.
  • Wu L, Xu B.* Analysis of protein ligand-receptor binding by photoaffinity cross-linking. Curr Protoc Protein Sci. 2015, 79, 19.26.1-19.26.14.
  • Watkins R, Wu L, Zhang C, Davis RM, Xu B.* Natural product-based nanomedicine: recent advances and issues. Int. J. Nanomedicine, 2015, 10, 6055-6074. equal authorship.
  • Xu B*, Wu L. Analysis of ligand-receptor binding by photoaffinity cross-linking. Science China (中国科学) Series B: Chemistry. Special issue on “The Frontiers of Chemical Biology and Synthesis”. 2014, 57, 232-242
  • Xu B, Gewe M, Finton K, Strong RK. NK receptors. Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules. Springer New York, 2012, 1228-1237.
  • Xu B, Pizarro JC, Holmes M, McBeth C, Groh V, Spies T, Strong RK. Crystal structure of a gamma-delta T cell receptor specific for human MHC class I homolog MICA. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011, 108, 2414-2419.
  • Yang Y, Petkova A, Huang K, Xu B, Hua QX, Ye IJ, Chu YC, Hu SQ, Phillips NB, Whittaker J, Ismail-Beigi F, Mackin RB, Katsoyannis PG, Tycko R, Weiss MA. An Achilles' heel in an amyloidogenic protein and its repair: insulin fibrillation and therapeutic design. J. Biol. Chem. 2010, 285, 10806-10821.
  • Zhao M, Wan ZL, Whittaker L, Xu B, Phillips NB, Katsoyannis PG, Ismail-Beigi F, Whittaker J, Weiss MA. Design of an insulin analog with enhanced receptor-binding selectivity: rationale, structure, and therapeutic implications. J. Biol. Chem. 2009, 284, 32178-32187.
  • Xu B, Huang K, Chu YC, Hu SQ, Nakagawa S, Wang S, Wang R, Whittaker J, Katsoyannis PG, Weiss MA. Decoding the cryptic active conformation of a protein by synthetic photo-scanning. Insulin inserts a detachable arm between receptor domains. J. Biol. Chem. 2009, 284, 14597-14608.
  • Hua QX, Xu B, Huang K, Hu SQ, Nakagawa S, Jia WH, Wang S, Whittaker J, Katsoyannis PG, Weiss MA. Enhancing the activity of a protein by stereospecific unfolding. The conformational life cycle of insulin and its evolutionary origins. J. Biol. Chem. 2009, 284, 14586-14596.
  • Xu B., Hu S.Q., Chu Y.C., Wang S.H., Wang R.Y., Nakagawa S.H., Katsoyannis P.G., Weiss M.A. Diabetes-Associated Mutations in Human Insulin Identify Direct Hormone – Receptor Contacts. Diabetes. 2004, 53, 1599-1602.
Bin Xu

(540) 231-8442
Xu Laboratory