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Dr. Dean G. Tang

Dr. Dean G. Tang

Regular Member

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis
The Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center

My laboratory is located in Smithville, Texas, at UT Science Park

The main focus of our lab research is to elucidate the cellular basis and molecular determinants of prostate cancer (PCa) cell heterogeneity. Our work suggests that PCa cells are not all equal with respect to their tumorigenic and metastatic potential and there exist stem cell-like PCa cells or prostate cancer stem cells (PCSCs) that are generally less differentiated, have the capacity to recreate the phenotypic and functional heterogeneities present in patient tumors, and are intrinsically resistant to castration and chemotherapeutic drugs. We have established that PCa cells are organized as a tumorigenic hierarchy with PCSCs being able to undergo asymmetric cell division and differentiate into PSA+ cells. The PCSC pool is heterogeneous containing multiple overlapping subsets of tumor cells that are very dormant but possess distinct tumor-initiating, tumor-propagating, and therapy-resistance capacities. The laboratory has been pursuing the following inter-connected research projects since 2002.

1. Normal prostate stem/progenitor cells & the cell-of-origin of PCa

2. PCSCs in xenograft & patient tumors

3. PCSC involvement in metastasis

4. PCSC response to androgen deprivation & other therapeutics

5. PCSC self-renewal: Role of Nanog

6. PCSC epigenetic landscape

7. PCSC regulation by miRNAs

8. PCSC asymmetric cell division 

9. PCSC targeting novel therapeutics

These projects involve the use of established PCa xenografts, primary human tumor samples and novel animal models. The ultimate goal of our research is to uncover the unique properties of PCSCs and develop specific therapeutics to target them.



MDACC Faculty

Lab website

Program Affiliation:

Program in Molecular Carcinogenesis

Contact Information

Phone: 512.237.9575


Office: MDA SPR (Unit 116)

Title: Professor


Ph.D. - Wayne State University - 1994
M.S. - Wuhan University School of Medicine - 1989