Shu-Bing Qian
Shu-Bing Qian
James Jamison Professor
Division of Nutritional Sciences

211 [Office] & 208 [Lab] Weill Hall


Dr. Qian is the James Jamison Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Professor Qian received PhD degree from Shanghai Jiaotong University Medical School (formerly Shanghai Second Medical University), majoring in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry. He then conducted two postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD) and University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC). Dr. Qian joined the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in July 2008.  In 2009, he received the Young Investigator Award from Ellison Medical Foundation, and NIH Director's New Innovator Award. In 2010, Dr. Qian received the DOD Development Award. In 2013, Dr. Qian received the Peter Reeds Young Investigator Award. In 2014, Dr. Qian received the DOD Idea Award. In 2016, Dr. Qian was selected as an HHMI Faculty Scholar. In 2020, Dr. Qian received the prestigious NIH Pioneer Award.

Most of the research work in Dr. Qian's laboratory is broadly interdisciplinary, with a primary emphasis on mRNA translation, nutrient signaling pathway, and stress response. Using biochemical, genetic, and cell biological approach, the Qian laboratory investigates translational control of gene expression, molecular mechanisms of adaptive stress response, dynamic mRNA modifications, and the implications in human health and diseases. Specific disease aspects include but are not limited to, diabetes, cancer, aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

Research interests

  • Translational Reprogramming in Gene Expression
    We developed genome-wide approaches for profiling of initiating ribosomes, which enables quantitative mapping of translational initiation sites across the transcriptome. Using eukaryotic cells and mouse models, we are actively investigating alternative pathways controlling ribosome loading, scanning, and start codon selection.
  • Nutrient Stress Response
    Using nutrient starvation as the primary stress model, we are investigating functional adaptations of gene expression at the transcriptional and translational levels. We aim to uncover novel modes of cellular adaptation in response to nutrient  stress.
  • mRNA epigenetics
    By focusing on the role of mRNA modification in the form of m6A, we are currently investigating the broad effects of mRNA methylation in cellular physiology, such as cell growth, development, as well as cancer.

Student opportunities

Indication of whether or not this person is accepting new undergraduate and graduate students is shown by academic year below.

Graduate students

Availability by term
2022 - 2023 Available

Undergraduate students

Availability by term
2022 - 2023 Available

How is mRNA translation controlled by nutrient signaling?  How does protein folding and degradation occur during protein synthesis?  How do cells get rid of misfolded proteins?  These are a few of the problems we would like to understand.  Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying protein quality and quantity control will ultimately define new therapeutic strategies to human diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.  

Specifically, we use biochemistry, cell biological, and genetic approaches to study translational control of gene expression and protein triage (folding, degradation, and aggregation) using mammalian system.  We established high resolution ribosomal profiling analysis to monitor mRNA translation, which allows us to investigate ribosome dynamics as well as co-translational events with unprecedented resolution. In addition, we are actively investigating the role of mRNA modification in gene expression. By focusing on cellular stress response and the translation machinery, we are dedicated to elucidate fundamental principles of protein homeostasis.

Teaching is an exciting, enriching, and an integral component of an academic career, and I am firmly committed to excellence in teaching.  My primary goal is to instill interest and to expose students to the course topics, which in turn enables me to achieve a better understanding of the material taught, which then provides all parties an opportunity to learn new material.  Overall, I enjoy teaching and respect this responsibility as a core value and of critical importance to society.

NS3200: Human Biochemistry

BIOG4990: Independent Research in Biology II

BIOMG8369: BMCB: Foundation & Frontiers

NS4010: Empirical Research

Shu XE, Mao Y, Jia L, Qian SB. Dynamic eIF3a O-GlcNAcylation controls translation reinitiation during nutrient stress. Nat Chem Biol 2021; 18(2):134-141

Gu Y, Mao Y, Jia L, Dong L, Qian SB. Bi-directional ribosome scanning controls the stringency of start codon selection. Nat Commun. 2021; 12(1):6604. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26923-3.

Ji Q, Zong X, Mao Y, Qian SB. A heat shock-responsive lncRNA Heat acts as a HSF1-directed transcriptional brake via m6A modification. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2021; 118(25):e2102175118.

Dong L, Mao Y, Zhou A, Liu X, Zhou J, Wan J, and Qian SBRelaxed initiation pausing of ribosomes drives oncogenic translation. Sci Adv 2021; 17;7(8):eabd6927.

Mao Y, Qian SB. Ribosome-guided piRNA production. Nat Cell Biol 2020; 22(2):141-142

Mao Y, Dong L, Liu XM, Guo J, Ma H, Shen B, Qian SB. m6A in mRNA coding regions promotes translation via the RNA helicase-containing YTHDC2. Nat Commun 2019; 10(1):5332

Orr MW, Mao Y, Storz G, Qian SB, Alternative ORFs and small ORFs: shedding light on the dark proteome. Nucleic Acids Res 2019; (doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz734)

Liu XM, Zhou J, Mao Y, Ji Q, Qian SB, Programmable RNA N6-methyladenosine editing using CRISPR/Cas9 conjugates. Nat Chem Biol 2019; 15(9):865-871

King AP, Marker SC, Swanda RV, Woods JJ, Qian SB, Wilson JJ. A rhenium isonitrile complex induces unfolded protein response-mediated apoptosis in cancer cells. Chemistry 2019; 25(39):9206-9210

Wei J, Kishton RJ, Angel M, Conn CS, Dalla-Venezia N, Marcel V, Vincent A, Catez F, Ferré S, Ayadi L, Marchand V, Dersh D, Gibbs JS, Ivanov IP, Fridlyand N, Couté Y, Diaz JJ, Qian SB, Staudt LM, Restifo NP, Yewdell JW. Ribosomal proteins regulate MHC class I peptide generation for immunosurveillance. Mol Cell 2019; 73(6):1162-1173.

Liu XM, Qian SB, Assembly en route.Nat Struct Mol Biol 2019; 26(2):89-91.

Xi R, Tung KL, Wan J, Chen KY, Li F, Li X, Xin Y, Varanko A, Rakhilin N, Liu B, Qian SB, Su L, Han Y, Shen X. SENPS-mediated host defense response contains HBV replication and restores protein synthesis. PLOS One 2019; 14(1): e0209179.

Wan J, Gao X, Mao Y, Zhang X, Qian SB. A coding sequence-embedded principle governs translational reading frame fidelity. Research 2018; 2018:7089174. doi: 10.1155/2018/7089174.

Zhang X, Shu XE, Qian SB. O-GlcNAc modification of eIF4GI acts as a translational switch in heat shock response. Nat Chem Biol 2018; 14(10):909-916

Zhou J, Wan J, Xin ES, Mao Y, Liu XM, Xin Y, Zhang X, Martin EH, Jens CB, and Qian SB*. 6-Methyladenosine Guides mRNA Alternative Translation during Integrated Stress Response. Mol Cell 2018; 69(4):636-647.

Li X, Xiong X, Chen Y, Zhang M, Wang K, Zhou J, Mao Y, Yi D, Chen X-W, Wang C, Qian SB, and Yi C*. Single-nucleotide resolution mapping reveals distinct classes of N1-methyladenosine methylome in nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded transcripts. Mol Cell 2017; 68(5):993-1005.

Coots RA, Liu XM, Mao Y, Dong L, Zhou J, Wan J, Zhang X, Qian SB*. m6A facilitates eIF4F-independent mRNA translation. Mol Cell 2017; 68(3):504-514.

Tang L, Morris J, Wan, J, Moore C, Fujita Y, Gilaspie S, Aube E, Nanda J, Marques M, Jangal M, Anderson A, Cox C, Hiraishi H, Dong L, Saito H, Singh CR, Witcher M, Topisirovic I, Qian SB, and Asano K*. Competition between translation initiation factor eIF5 and its mimic protein 5MP determines non-AUG initiation rate genome-wide. Nucleic Acids Res 2017; 45(20):11941-11953

Saikia M, Wang X, Mao Y, Wan J, Pan T and Qian SB. Codon optimality controls differential mRNA translation during amino acid starvation. RNA 2016; 22(11):1719-1727

Liu B and Qian SB. Characterizing inactive ribosomes in translational profiling. Translation 2016; 4(1):e1138018

Qian SB. Step back for seminal translation. Nat Struct Mol Biol 2016; 232(5):362-3

Meyer KD, Patil DP, Zhou J, Zinoviev A, Skabkin MA, Elemento O, Pestova TV, Qian SB and Jaffrey SR. 5' UTR m6A promotes cap-independent translation. Cell 2015; 163(4):999-1010

Zhou J, Wan J, Gao, X, Zhang X, Jaffrey SR and Qian SB. Dynamic m6A mRNA methylation directs translational regulation of heat shock response. Nature 2015; 526(7574):591-4

Gao X, Wan J, and Qian SB. Genome-wide profiling of alternative translation initiation sites. Methods Mol Biol 2016; 1358:303-16

Zhang X, Gao X, Coots RA, Conn CS, Liu B and Qian SB. Translational control of cytosolic stress response by mitochondrial ribosomal protein L18. Nat Struct Mol Biol 2015; 22(5):404-10 

Gao X, Wan J, Liu B, Ma M, Shen B, and Qian SB. Quantitative profiling of initiating ribosomes in vivo. Nat Methods 2015; 12(2):147-53. PMCID: in process

Han Y, Gao X, Liu B, Wan J, Zhang X, and Qian SB. Ribosome profiling reveals sequence-independent post-initiation pausing as a signature of translation. Cell Res 2014; 24(7):842-51. PMCID: PMC4085768

Liu B and Qian SB. Invited review: Mechanisms of translational regulation during stress. Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA 2014; 5(3):301-5. PMCID: PMC3991730

Wan J and Qian SB.  TISdb: a database for alternative translation initiation in mammalian cells. Nucleic Acids Res 2014; 42(1):D845-50. PMID: 24203712

Sherman MY and Qian SB.  Less is more: Improving proteostasis by translation slow-down. Trends Biochem Sci 2013; 38(12):585-91. PMID: 24126073

Conn CS and Qian SBmTORC1 in protein homeostasis: increase in protein quantity at the expense of quality. Sci Signal 2013; 6(271):ra24. PMID: 23592839

Liu B, Han Y, and Qian SB.  Co-translational response to proteotoxic stress by elongation pausing of ribosomes. Mol Cell 2013; 49(3):453-463. PMID: 23290916

Stern-Ginossar N, Weisburd B, Michalski A, Le VT, Hein MY, Huang SX, Ma M, Shen B, Qian SB, Hengel H, Mann M, Ingolia NT, Weissman JS. Decoding human cytomegalovirus. Science 2012; 338(6110):1088-93.  PMID: 23180859

Lee S, Liu B, Lee S, Huang SX, Shen B, and Qian SB. Global mapping of translation initiation sites in mammalian cells at single-nucleotide resolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012; 109(37):E2424-32. PMID: 22927429

Han Y, David A, Liu B, Magadán JG, Bennink JR, Yewdell JW, and Qian SB. Monitoring co-translational protein folding in mammalian cells at codon resolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012; 109(31):12467-72. PMID: 22802618

Park WJ, Kothapalli KS, Reardon HT, Lawrence P, Qian SB, Brenna JT. A novel FADS1 isoform potentiates FADS2-mediated production of eicosanoid precursor fatty acids. J Lipid Res 2012; 53(8):1502-12. PMID: 22619218

Liu B, and Qian SB. Translational regulation in nutrigenomics. Adv Nutr 2011; 2(6):511-9

Zhang X, and Qian SB. Chaperone-mediated hierarchical control in targeting misfolded proteins to aggresome. Mol Biol Cell 2011; 22(18):3277-88

Conn CS and Qian SB.  mTOR signaling in protein homeostasis: less is more? Cell Cycle 2011; 10(12):1940-7

Sun J, Conn CS, Han Y, Yeung V, and Qian SB. PI3K-mTORC1 attenuates stress response by inhibiting cap-independent Hsp70 mRNA translation.  J Biol Chem 2011; 286(8):6791-800

Graduate Field Membership: Nutrition; Genetics & Development; Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Member: Center for Vertebrate Genomics
Faculty Member: Chemical Biology Interface (CBI) Program
Faculty Member: Leadership Program for Veterinary Students

Executive committee member

2006, PostDoc, University of North Carolina

2004, PostDoc, National Institutes of Health

2000, Ph.D., Biochemistry, Shanghai Jiaotong University Medical School

1997, M.Sc., Biochemistry, Shanghai Jiaotong University Medical School

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