Professor Ding Jian
Doctor of Science, honoris causa (2021)
Professor Ding Jian is a pioneer in antitumour pharmacology and one of the most influential academic leaders in the field of new drug research in China. Born in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, Professor Ding received his PhD degree in Pathology from Kyushu University, Japan in 1992. He is currently Director of the Cancer Research Centre, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Dean of School of Pharmacy at the University of Chinese
Academy of Sciences. He was elected as an Academician of the Faculty of Medicine and Health of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2009 and a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2015.
Professor Ding is committed to discovering and developing innovative antitumour drugs to meet the health needs in the Chinese pharmacological community. He has been instrumental in the innovation of molecularly targeted therapy and a four-in-one anticancer drug translational research and development platform, which is comprised of “research and development of anti-cancer drugs – exploration of sensitive biomarkers – studies of drug resistance mechanisms – formulation of concomitant drugs prescriptions”, to gain new insights for personalised cancer treatment. To help us understand the implications of Professor Ding’s innovation, we must first learn the basic difference between the standard chemotherapy and targeted therapy in tumour patients. While chemotherapy drugs effectively target processes that tumour cells need to grow and divide, unfortunately, many healthy cells at the same time were also damaged. Targeted therapies, on the other hand, act on specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer. To prevent normal cells to be killed in a tumour therapy, Professor Ding and his team discovered new molecular biomarkers, particularly signalling transduction and molecular basis of drug resistance that allowed his team to uncover the structural basis and mechanism of action for the interactions of several targeted drugs. The molecular targeted therapy therefore allows to block or turn off signals that make tumour cells grow, or can signal the tumour cells to destroy themselves, which provides patients with an accurate and personalised tumour therapy.
As one of the major inventors, Professor Ding and his team have systematically improved the therapeutic window and revealed the antitumour mechanism of more than 10 innovative candidate compounds. More than 280 invention patents have been granted or filed for application. Currently, among 16 new antitumour drug candidates of which Professor Ding is the principal inventor, six of them are concurrently in clinical research in the United States, Japan and Australia, and two of them are in the new drug application process. Several other new drug candidates are under systematic pre-clinical research review. These innovative drugs were pivotal in providing a molecular basis for patient stratification and overcoming drug resistance. Professor Ding also led the establishment of pharmacodynamic evaluation system for antitumour drugs screening and pharmacodynamics that conforms to international standards, laying a vital technical support and foundation for China’s independent research and development in innovative antitumour drugs in China.
It is no doubt Professor Ding is among the most impactful authors in the field of antitumour drugs science. Professor Ding is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Acta Pharmacologica Sinica (Chinese Journal of Pharmacology). He has extended the frontiers of knowledge to the international arena through more than 340 scientific papers published in journals including Cell, Cancer Cell, Cell Research, Hepatology, Nature Communications, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancer Research, with citations of over 8,000 times.
Professor Ding’s remarkable accomplishments is widely recognised. He is the recipient of more than 10 prestigious awards, including the second prize of the National Natural Science Award in 2009 and 2013, the second prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award in 2003, the first prize of the Shanghai Natural Science Award in both 2007 and 2010 and first prize of the Shanghai Science and Technology Progress in 2003. In addition, he received the National Award for Excellence in Innovation in 2020, CC Tan Life Science Achievement Award in 2016, Outstanding Achievement in Science and Technology Prize of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016, Prize for
Scientific and Technological Progress by Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation in 2008. In 2020, Professor Ding was awarded Doctor of Science, honoris causa by Macau University of Science and Technology.
Professor Ding is a scientist of great vision who embodies his scientific expertise and passion in the discipline of antitumour drug research. Not only he has a genuine care for the health of the people in the country, he continues to communicate knowledge and inspire the next generation by rendering support to the teaching and research in the discipline. Professor Ding is a supporter of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) of Hong Kong Baptist University. He was a distinguished speaker at SCM’s First Summit on Innovative Drug Discovery in 2012, sharing his insights on targeted antitumour drug discovery, and was appointed an Honorary Professor of SCM from September 2019 to August 2021. Professor Ding’s guidance and advice have been most beneficial to the development of School of Chinese Medicine’s research in drug discovery and the strengthening of its collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.