Shugeng Cao

Shugeng Cao, Ph.D.


Shugeng Cao carried out his doctoral research at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where Shugeng studied the tropical plants collected from eastern Malaysia at Borneo, which is shared with Indonesia and Brunei. Assay-guided separation led to the isolation of many new cytotoxic compounds.

After his graduate study, Shugeng joined MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd. Shugeng's research at the company involved the study of biologically active compounds from bacteria, fungi, plant, and marine organisms.

He resigned from his position at MerLion Pharma and joined the Kingston Group at Virginia Tech (VT) in April 2003. At Virginia Tech, Shugeng carried out assay-guided separation of anticancer, anti-malarial, and CNS active compounds from marine, and plants from tropical countries (Suriname and Madagascar).

Shugeng moved to Boston as the Director of the Marcus Natural Product Lab under Dr. Jon Clardy at Harvard Medical School (HMS) in December 2008.  In 2013, Shugeng moved to University of Hawaii Cancer Center (UHCC) as an independent researcher.

In 2015 he relocated to Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP), UH Hilo.

Contact information

Office: Waiakea Research Station
Office Phone: (808) 981-8010
Fax Phone: (808) 981-4520


  • Ph.D. - National University of Singapore
  • Postdoctoral Fellow - Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow - Harvard Medical School


  • GBMF, #5009 (Multiple PIs; Lead PI: Dr. Michael Hadfield)
  • HCF: 15ADVC-77229 (PI) 
  • HCF: 17CON-86295 (PI)
  • HCF: 20CON-102163 (PI)
  • JBRI, 20160819 (PI)
  • JBRI, 20190128 (PI)
  • NIH/NCCIH, 1R01AT007022-01 (Co-I; PI: Dr. Don Senger)
  • NIH, INBRE-COBRE Administrative Supplement (Co-I; PI: Dr. Robert A. Nichols)
  • UHCC Seed Award: 2016 (PI)
  • UH Hilo Seed Grant: 2016-2017 (PI) 
  • UH Hilo Seed Grant2017-2018 (PI)
  • UH Manoa-JABSOM: INBRE3 2017-2018 (JI; PI: Dr. R. A. Nichols)
  • UH Manoa-JABSOM: INBRE4 2019-2020 (JI; PI: DR. R. A. Nichols)

Representative publications

  • Li C, Hu Y, Wu X, Stumpf SD, Qi Y, D’Alessandro JM, Nepal KK, Sarottid AM, Cao* S, Joshua AV Blodgettc* JAV. “Discovery of unusual dimeric piperazyl cyclopeptides encoded by a Lentzea flaviverrucosa DSM 44664 biosynthetic supercluster” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2022, accepted
  • Ohashi M, Jamieson CS, Cai Y, Tan D, Kanayama D, Tang M, Anthony SM, Chari JV, Barber JS, Picazo E, Kakule TB, Cao S, Garg NK, Zhou J, Houk KN, Tang Y “Discovery of enzymatic Alder-ene reaction and origins of catalytic selectivity” Nature 2020, Oct;586(7827):64-69. PMID: 32999480
  • Wang F, Sarotti AM, Jiang G, Huguet-Tapia JC, Zheng SL, Wu X, Li C, Ding Y, Cao S. “Waikikiamides A-C: Complex Diketopiperazine Dimer and Diketopiperazine-Polyketide Hybrids from a Hawaiian Marine Fungal Strain Aspergillus sp. FM242”. Org. Lett. 2020, Jun 5;22(11):4408-4412. PMID: 32433885
  • Nilubol N, Yuan Z-Q, Paciott GF, Tamarkin L, Sanchez C, Gaskins K, Freedman EM, Cao S, Zhao J, Kingston DGI, Libutti SK, Kebebew E. “A Novel Dual- 3.6 Action Targeted Nanomedicine Effective in Mouse Models of Endocrine Cancers” J Natl Cancer Inst . 2018 Sep 1;110(9):1019-1029. PMID: 29481652
  • Li CS, Sarotti AM, Huang P, Dang UT, Hurdle JG, Kondratyuk TP, Pezzuto JM, Turkson J, Cao S. "NF-κB inhibitors, unique γ-pyranol-γ-lactams with sulfide and sulfoxide moieties from Hawaiian plant Lycopodiella cernua derived fungus Paraphaeosphaeria neglecta FT462." Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 5;7(1):10424. PMID: 28874704
  • Briggs KJ, Koivunen P, Cao S, Backus KM, Olenchock BA, Patel H, Zhang Q, Signoretti S, Gerfen GJ, Richardson AL, Witkiewicz AK, Cravatt BF, Clardy J, Kaelin WG Jr. "Paracrine Induction of HIF by Glutamate in Breast Cancer: EglN1 Senses Cysteine." Cell. 2016 Jun 30;166(1):126-39. PMID: 27368101
  • Li CS, Ren G, Yang BJ, Miklossy G, Turkson J, Fei P, Ding Y, Walker LA, Cao S."Meroterpenoids with Antiproliferative Activity from a Hawaiian-Plant Associated Fungus Peyronellaea coffeae-arabicae FT238." Org Lett. 2016 May 20;18(10):2335-8. PMID: 27135759
  • Senger DR, Li D, Jaminet SC, Cao S." Activation of the Nrf2 Cell Defense Pathway by Ancient Foods: Disease Prevention by Important Molecules and Microbes Lost from the Modern Western Diet." PLoS One. 2016 Feb 17;11(2):e0148042. PMID: 26885667
  • Li CS, Ding Y, Yang BJ, Miklossy G, Yin HQ, Walker LA, Turkson J, Cao S. "A New Metabolite with a Unique 4-Pyranone-γ-Lactam-1,4-Thiazine Moiety from a Hawaiian-Plant Associated Fungus." Org Lett. 2015 Jul 17;17(14):3556-9. PMID: 26107089
  • Hiraki M, Hwang SY, Cao S, Ramadhar TR, Byun S, Yoon KW, Lee JH, Chu K, Gurkar AU, Kolev V, Zhang J, Namba T, Murphy ME, Newman DJ, Mandinova A, Clardy J, Lee SW. "Small-Molecule Reactivation of Mutant p53 to Wild-Type-like p53 through the p53-Hsp40 Regulatory Axis." Chem Biol. 2015 Sep 17;22(9):1206-16. PMID: 26320861
  • Wei S, Kozono S, Kats L, Nechama M, Li W, Guarnerio J, Luo M, You MH, Yao Y, Kondo A, Hu H, Bozkurt G, Moerke NJ, Cao S, Reschke M, Chen CH, Rego EM, Lo-Coco F, Cantley LC, Lee TH, Wu H, Zhang Y, Pandolfi PP, Zhou XZ, Lu KP. "Active Pin1 is a key target of all-trans retinoic acid in acute promyelocytic leukemia and breast cancer." Nat Med. 2015 May;21(5):457-66. PMID: 25849135
  • Kim KH, Ramadhar TR, Beemelmanns C, Cao S, Poulsen M, Currie CR, Clardy J. "Natalamycin A, an Ansamycin from a Termite-Associated Streptomyces sp." Chem Sci. 2014 Nov 1;5(11):4333-4338. PMID: 25386334
  • Alegado RA, Brown LW, Cao S, Dermenjian RK, Zuzow R, Fairclough SR, Clardy J, King N. "A bacterial sulfonolipid triggers multicellular development in the closest living relatives of animals." Elife. 2012 Oct 15;1:e00013. PMID: 23066504
  • Blodgett JA, Oh DC, Cao S, Currie CR, Kolter R, Clardy J. "Common biosynthetic origins for polycyclic tetramate macrolactams from phylogenetically diverse bacteria." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 29;107(26):11692-7. PMID: 20547882

Research Lab

For details about research, please visit the Cao Lab page.