Xiao Tian, Ph.D.

Xiao Tian's Research Focus

Aging, Epigenetics, Genomic Instability, Neurodegeneration
Aging-Related Diseases, Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer
Bioinformatics, Epigenomics, Gene Expression, Gene Knockout (Complete and Conditional), High-Throughput/Robotic Screening, Mouse Behavioral Analysis
Brain, Nervous System
Computational Modeling, Mouse, Naked Mole Rat, Primary Human Cells

The Tian lab studies the fundamental mechanisms of aging and their roles in the onset of age-related diseases. Our recent research in epigenetic reprogramming and aging clocks indicates that the progressive loss of epigenetic information over time is a key driver of aging. The current research of the lab focuses on understanding how the epigenetic landscape is set up and maintained and investigating why the maintenance system fails which leads to aging and related diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration. Building on this, our ultimate goal is to develop safe and effective rejuvenation strategies to counteract aging.

Xiao Tian's Research Report

Below are my major contributions to the field of aging research during my Ph.D. and postdoc work:

Uncovering the first anti-cancer and longevity mechanism of the naked mole rat

We identified high-molecular-mass hyaluronan (HMM HA) as a critical mechanism for the cancer resistance of the naked mole-rat cells. Furthermore, we found that this anti-cancer and longevity mechanism from naked mole rats can be integrated into other species, highlighting the significant implications of identifying new mechanisms from long-lived species. Our goal is to decipher how long-lived organisms control the pace of aging and deter age-related diseases.

Discovering enhanced DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in long-lived species

Using a group of 18 species, we revealed that long-lived species possess efficient DNA double-strand break repair, mediated by potent SIRT6 activities. Future directions include deciphering how long-lived species address different types of cellular stress to maintain genomic and epigenomic stability.

Epigenetic reprogramming as a strategy to counteract aging and age-related diseases

We illustrated that epigenetic information loss as a result of DNA damage repair is a key driver of aging. One interventional strategy is to recover the lost epigenetic information, such as through reprogramming. We revealed that epigenetic reprogramming is an effective strategy to counteract aging and even potentially modify the trajectory of age-related diseases including glaucoma. We are currently testing other disease settings.

Xiao Tian's Bio

Dr. Xiao Tian participates in the Degenerative Diseases Program and the Cancer Genome and Epigenetics Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys. He started his lab in 2024 to understand the fundamental biology of aging and its contribution to age-related diseases. He joined the Institute after his postdoctoral research in Dr. David Sinclair’s lab at Harvard Medical School where he co-wrote the Information Theory of Aging. He obtained his B.S. from Shandong University and his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester where he worked with Dr. Vera Gorbunova.


2018-2023: Postdoc, Harvard Medical School
2016-2018: Postdoc, University of Rochester
2010-2016: Ph.D., Biology of Aging, University of Rochester
2005-2009: B.S., Microbial Technology, Shandong University

Honors and Awards

2020-2026: K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Awards, NIH/NIA
2019-2020: NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship, NASA Ames Research Center
2017: Outstanding Dissertation Award for the Natural Sciences, University of Rochester
2015: Messersmith Dissertation Fellowship, University of Rochester
2014: Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad, China Scholarship Council
2010-2014: Holtfreter Fellowship, University of Rochester
2007: Weichai Power Scholarship, Shandong University
2006-2008: Excellent Student Scholarship, Shandong University

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Reprogramming to recover youthful epigenetic information and restore vision.

Lu Y, Brommer B, Tian X, Krishnan A, Meer M, Wang C, Vera DL, Zeng Q, Yu D, Bonkowski MS, Yang JH, Zhou S, Hoffmann EM, Karg MM, Schultz MB, Kane AE, Davidsohn N, Korobkina E, Chwalek K, Rajman LA, Church GM, Hochedlinger K, Gladyshev VN, Horvath S, Levine ME, Gregory-Ksander MS, Ksander BR, He Z, Sinclair DA

Nature 2020 Dec ;588(7836):124-129

SIRT6 Is Responsible for More Efficient DNA Double-Strand Break Repair in Long-Lived Species.

Tian X, Firsanov D, Zhang Z, Cheng Y, Luo L, Tombline G, Tan R, Simon M, Henderson S, Steffan J, Goldfarb A, Tam J, Zheng K, Cornwell A, Johnson A, Yang JN, Mao Z, Manta B, Dang W, Zhang Z, Vijg J, Wolfe A, Moody K, Kennedy BK, Bohmann D, Gladyshev VN, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V

Cell 2019 Apr 18 ;177(3):622-638.e22

High-molecular-mass hyaluronan mediates the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat.

Tian X, Azpurua J, Hine C, Vaidya A, Myakishev-Rempel M, Ablaeva J, Mao Z, Nevo E, Gorbunova V, Seluanov A

Nature 2013 Jul 18 ;499(7458):346-9

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The Information Theory of Aging.

Lu YR, Tian X, Sinclair DA

Nat Aging 2023 Dec ;3(12):1486-1499

Restricting mealtime ameliorates neurodegeneration.

Tian X, Sinclair DA

Cell Metab 2023 Oct 3 ;35(10):1673-1674

Increased hyaluronan by naked mole-rat Has2 improves healthspan in mice.

Zhang Z, Tian X, Lu JY, Boit K, Ablaeva J, Zakusilo FT, Emmrich S, Firsanov D, Rydkina E, Biashad SA, Lu Q, Tyshkovskiy A, Gladyshev VN, Horvath S, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V

Nature 2023 Sep ;621(7977):196-205

Chemically induced reprogramming to reverse cellular aging.

Yang JH, Petty CA, Dixon-McDougall T, Lopez MV, Tyshkovskiy A, Maybury-Lewis S, Tian X, Ibrahim N, Chen Z, Griffin PT, Arnold M, Li J, Martinez OA, Behn A, Rogers-Hammond R, Angeli S, Gladyshev VN, Sinclair DA

Aging (Albany NY) 2023 Jul 12 ;15(13):5966-5989

Loss of epigenetic information as a cause of mammalian aging.

Yang JH, Hayano M, Griffin PT, Amorim JA, Bonkowski MS, Apostolides JK, Salfati EL, Blanchette M, Munding EM, Bhakta M, Chew YC, Guo W, Yang X, Maybury-Lewis S, Tian X, Ross JM, Coppotelli G, Meer MV, Rogers-Hammond R, Vera DL, Lu YR, Pippin JW, Creswell ML, Dou Z, Xu C, Mitchell SJ, Das A, O'Connell BL, Thakur S, Kane AE, Su Q, Mohri Y, Nishimura EK, Schaevitz L, Garg N, Balta AM, Rego MA, Gregory-Ksander M, Jakobs TC, Zhong L, Wakimoto H, El Andari J, Grimm D, Mostoslavsky R, Wagers AJ, Tsubota K, Bonasera SJ, Palmeira CM, Seidman JG, Seidman CE, Wolf NS, Kreiling JA, Sedivy JM, Murphy GF, Green RE, Garcia BA, Berger SL, Oberdoerffer P, Shankland SJ, Gladyshev VN, Ksander BR, Pfenning AR, Rajman LA, Sinclair DA

Cell 2023 Jan 19 ;186(2):305-326.e27

Maintenance of genome sequence integrity in long- and short-lived rodent species.

Zhang L, Dong X, Tian X, Lee M, Ablaeva J, Firsanov D, Lee SG, Maslov AY, Gladyshev VN, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V, Vijg J

Sci Adv 2021 Oct 29 ;7(44):eabj3284

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