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
  • American Heart Association (Basic Cell, Proteins & Crystallography 2)
  • Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund, Virginia Center on Aging
  • Alzheimer's Association

Journal Reviewer:

  • Biochemical Pharmacology (Elsevier press)
    Cell Chemical Biology (Cell press)
    Frontiers in Endocrinology (Lausanne)
    Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (ACS press)
    Protein & Peptide Letters (Bentham Science press)
    Scientific Reports (Nature press)
    Cell Chemical Biology (Cell press)

Selected Awards 

  • 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
  • 2014 – Travel Fellowship – American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
  • 2013 – International Travel Grant – Virginia Tech
  • 2010 – Travel Fellowship – American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • 2009 – Finn Wold Awardee – The Protein Society
  • 2009 – “Papers of The Week” – The Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • 2008 – SPAC Travel Scholarship – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • 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 biochemical, structural, molecular, cellular, and animal (long-term) studies on receptor-ligand recognition, protein-protein interaction, cell signaling, and novel receptor / therapeutic ligand discovery and protein engineering that are relevant to human chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, Cardiovascular, and aging problems. We are also interested in studying molecular recognition and signaling in host-pathogen interactions such as mechanisms of pathogen evasion of host immune defense.

Currently our lab is supported by Virginia Tech new faculty start-up grant and a grant from Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation. We have several projects under development (see below) and a number of national grants are pending. Of particular interests are receptor-ligand biochemistry and molecular medicine research. We welcome visiting scientists for stimulating and productive collaboration and training.

Our lab is an active participant in Biochemistry graduate program (home program), interdepartmental microbiology graduate program, and Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery (VTCDD).

Current Projects

  1. Structure, function, and mechanistic studies of a newly discovered exercise hormone, irisin, that fights obesity and diabetes.
  2. Molecular mechanisms of amylin as a novel contributor for Alzheimer's disease
  3. Molecular and structural basis of viral proteins hijacking human immune defense.

Dr. Xu's PubMed Site

Selected Publications (*corresponding author)

  • Wu L, Xu B.* Using thermogenic beige cells to identify biologically active small molecule leads and peptides. Methods Mol. Biol. 2016, in press.
  • Wang A, Luo J, Moore W, Alkhalidy H, Wu L, Zhang J, Zhen W, Wang Y, 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, in press. equal authorship.
  • 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