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Xin Lu is Professor of Cancer Biology at the University of Oxford, UK, and Director of the Oxford Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Co-director of the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre Multi-Modal Cancer Therapies Theme Lead and Director of the Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection. She has a long-standing interest in mechanisms of tumour suppression and cellular plasticity, centred on studies of p53 and the ASPP family of proteins (apoptosis-stimulating protein of p53; ankyrin repeats, SH3 domain and proline-rich sequence-containing proteins). Her laboratory's discovery of ASPPs, regulators or 'molecular switches' of the apoptotic function of p53 led to key insights into the role of cell plasticity in cancer and other diseases, and these could pave the way to new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Xin has received many awards and honours in recognition of her significant contributions to cancer biology, including being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2020. Here, she outlines how her breakthrough discovery of ASPPs came about and its impact on the cancer field, as well as highlighting the importance of mentors including Min Wu, Birgit Lane and Sir David Lane in shaping her early career and helping her to navigate a new research world, having moved to the UK from China in the 80s.

Original publication




Journal article


The FEBS journal

Publication Date



Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK.