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Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Profile Photo

Yanzhang (Charlie) Wei

Biological Sciences


Life Sciences Building 55B [Office]
Life Sciences Building 60E [Lab]
Life Sciences Building 69 [Research Laboratory Service]

Educational Background

PhD, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Ohio University, 1996
MS, Genetics, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1985
BS, Biology, Shenyang Normal University, 1982

Profile/About Me

Dr. Wei graduated from Shenyang Normal University in 1982 with a Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and the Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1985 with a Master’s degree in genetics. He studied fish molecular and cellular biology and biotechnology then in the Institute and participated in generating the world very first transgenic fish. Dr. Wei came to the United States in 1992 and studied molecular and cellular biology at the Edison Biotechnology Institute (EBI) and the Department of Biological Sciences of Ohio University under Dr. Thomas Wagner. He graduated 4 years later with his PhD and developed a novel gene delivery system using embryonic yolk sac cells. After spending two years as a postdoctoral fellow in EBI studying molecular and cellular biology and immunology, Dr. Wei moved to South Carolina and joined in the faculty of Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine (now Biological Sciences), Clemson University. He was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2004 and full professor in 2009. During the same period of time, Dr. Wei also served as an Assistant Director of the Oncology Research Institute (ORI), Greenville Health System (GHS).

Since he joined the Clemson University and the ORI, Dr. Wei set up a cell biology lab from scratch and established several internationally recognized cancer research programs. His dendritic/tumor cell fusion-based cancer immunotherapy (Dendritoma Vaccine) moved quickly enough that in less than two years (from 1999 to 2001) it progressed from an idea to animal models and to cancer patients. Dendritoma therapy was evaluated in phase I and phase II clinical trials in melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and neuroblastoma patients. The clinical data are very encouraging and some of the patients clearly benefited from the therapy. This novel cancer immunotherapy drew attentions internationally and was covered by news media many times. Dendritoma vaccine is the patented technology leading to the creation of and was licensed by three biotech companies: Greenville Oncology Therapeutics, Inc., Oncolix, Inc., and Orbis Health Solutions, Inc. Meanwhile, Dr. Wei has also been developing other anti-cancer approaches such as targeting foreign major histocompatibility complex (MHC) to tumor cells using single chain antibodies, targeting Fc fragment of immunoglobulin G (IgG) to tumor cells using RGD peptides, anchoring cytokines onto tumor cell surface using glycoinositol phospholipid (GPI) anchors, transferring T cells, targeting stress signal proteins on tumor cells, etc. Dr. Wei is currently focusing on developing new therapies targeting at immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment using nanotechnology.

As a principal investigator, Dr. Wei has been effective in securing research funds for his research projects. He received research funds in a total of more than $4,000,000, including grants from the Higher Education Commission of South Carolina, the Charlotte Geyer Foundation, the SCBRIN program, the Patient-First Foundation, NSF, and NCI, and significant amounts of contract funds from GHS oncology foundation, William K. and Frances J. Bryan New Hope Fund, Greenville Oncology Therapeutics, Inc., and Oncolix, Inc.

Dr. Wei has been a very productive investigator as well. He published 75 papers and a book chapter in his research career. Dr. Wei has filed nine patent applications, two of which were granted in 2005 and 2009 respectively. Meanwhile, he has been active in attending international and national scientific meetings organized by leading cancer research organizations, such as the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He was invited as session chair, co-chair, or speakers by multiple international scientific organizations. Dr. Wei served as a consultant for three biotech companies: Greenville Oncology Therapeutics, Inc, Oncolix, Inc,and BioMediCure. He is a member of the following scientific organizations: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA).

Research Interests

Dr. Wei's research focuses on the development of novel anti-cancer immunotherapies, including, but not limited to, dendritic cell and natural killer cell mediated cancer immunotherapy, bi-functional chimeric fusion protein mediated cancer gene therapy, natural product mediated cancer therapy, novel approaches for targeted cancer therapy, etc.

Courses Taught

Basic Immunology (MICR/BIOL 4140/H4140/6140)

Immunology Lab (MICR 4240)

Tumor Biology and Cancer Therapeutics (BIOL 8710)
Senior Seminar (BIOL 4930)

Undergraduate student research (BIOL 4910)

Undergraduate student creative inquiry research (BIOL 4940)

Biology in the News (BIOL 2000)

Selected Publications

1. Kuang S, Wei Y, Wang L. Expression-based prediction of human essential genes and associated lncRNAs in cancer cells. Bioinformatics, btaa717, 2020.
2. Ding H*, Buzzard GW, Huang S, Sehorn MG, Marcus RK, Wei Y. MICA-G129R: A bifunctional fusion protein bridging natural killer cells and breast cancer cells. PlosOne, (in review)
3. Zhang M, Yang X*, Wei Y, Wall M, Songsak T, Wongwiwatthananukit S, Chang LC. Bioactive Sesquiterpene Lactones Isolated from the Whole Plants of Vernonia cinerea. J Nat Products, 82:2124-2131, 2019. (IF: 4.257)
4. Ding H, Wei Y. Chimeric protein MICA-G129R Bridges Breast Cancer Cells and Natural Killer Cells, J Immunother Cancer, 7, 2019.
5. Yang X., Yu Y., Wei Y. Lentiviral delivery of novel fusion protein IL12/FasTI for cancer gene/immune therapy. PlosOne, online, (2018).

6. Xiao R., Yang X., Li M., Li X., Wei Y., Cao M., Ragauskas A., Thies M., Ding J., Zhen Y. Investigation of Composition, Structure and Bioactivity of Extracellular Polymeric Substances from Marine Protist. Carbohydrate Polymers, 195:515-524 2018.

7. Yang X., Kuang S., Wang L., Wei Y. MHC class I chain-related A: polymorphism, regulation and therapeutic value in cancer. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 103:111-117, (2018).

8. Ding H., Yang X., Wei Y. Fusion Proteins of NKG2D/NKG2DL in Cancer Immunotherapy. Int J Mol Sci, 19, 177-, (2018).

9. Tietje A., Yang X., Yu X., Wei Y. MICA/IL-12: A novel bifunctional protein for killer cell activation. Oncology Reports, 37:1889-1895, (2017).

10. Wei Y. Reshaping the Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment: The Fusion Protein Strategy. Int J. Cell Sci, 1:102, (2016).

11. Jain A, Wei Y, Tietje A. Biochemical Conversion of Sugarcane Bagasse into Bioproducts. Biomass Bioenergy, 93:227-242, (2016).

12. Burdette MK, Jenkins R, Bandera Y, Powell RR, Bruce TF, Yang X, Wei Y, Foulger SH. Bovine serum albumin coated nanoparticles for in vitro activated fluorescence. Nanoscale, 8:20066-20073, (2016).

13. Youn UJ, Park, EJ, Kondratyuk T, Sang-Ngern M, Wei Y, Wall M, Pezzuto J, Chang L. Anti-inflammatory and Quinone Reductase Inducing Compounds from Fermented Noni (Morinda citrifolia) Juice Exudates. J Nat Prod, 75:1508-1513 (2016).

14. Jenkins R, Bandera YP, Daniele MA, Ledford LL, Tietje AH, Kelso AA, Sehorn MG, Wei Y, Chakrabarti M, Ray S, and Foulger SH. Sequestering Survivin to functionalized nanoparticles: A strategy to enhance apoptosis in cancer cells. Biomater Sci 4:614-26, (2016).

15. Yang X, Tietje AH, Yu X, and Wei Y. Mouse interleukin-12/FasTI: A novel bi-functional fusion protein for cancer immuno/gene therapy. Int J Oncol 48:2381-6, (2016).

16. Wall MM, Nishijima KA, Sarnoski P, Keith L, Chang LC, and Wei Y. Postharvest ripening of noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) and the microbial and chemical properties of its fermented juice. J. Herbs Spices Medicinal Plants 21:294–307, (2015).

17. Tietje A, Maron KL, Bordey A, Wei Y, Feliciano DM. Temporal dynamics of human cerebrospinal fluid vesicles. PLoS One 24; 9(11):e113116 (2014)

18. Tietje A, Li J, Yu X, Wei Y. MULT1E/mIL-12: A novel bi-functional protein for NK Cell activation. Gene Therapy. 21(5): 468-475, (2014).

19. Li J, Yu X, Wagner TE, Wei Y. A biotin-streptavidin-biotin bridge dramatically enhances cell fusion. Oncology Letter. 8: 198-202, (2014).

20. Li J, Chang LC, Wall W, Wong DKW, Yu X, and Wei Y. Antitumor activity of fermented noni exudates and its fractions. Mol Clin Onco 1: 161-164, (2013).

21. Zhu L, Zhao Z, Wei Y, Marcotte W Jr, Wagner TE, Yu X. An IL-12/Shh-C domain fusion protein-based IL-12 autocrine loop for sustained natural killer cell activation. Int J Oncol 41: 661-9, (2012).

22. Zhao Z, Holle L, Song W, Wei Y, Wagner TE, Yu X. Antitumor and anti-angiogenic activities of Scutellaria barbata extracts in vitro are partially mediated by inhibition of Akt/protein kinase B. Mol Med Rep 5: 788-92, (2012).

23. Kim JY, Ballato J, Foy P, Hawkins T, Wei Y, Li J, Kim SO. Apoptosis experiments of cultured tumor cells treated with 200-μm-sized flexible microplasma jet. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. 39 (11): 2974-2975 (2011).

24. Kim JY, Ballato J, Foy P, Hawkins T, Wei Y, Li J, Kim SO. Apoptosis of lung carcinoma cells induced by a flexible optical fiber-based cold microplasma. Biosens Bioelectron 28: 333-8, (2011).

25. Kim JY, Wei Y, Li J, Foy P, Hawkins T, Ballato J, Kim SO. Apoptosis of Lung Carcinoma Cells Induced by Flexible Cold Microplasma Jets for Improvement of Targeting. Small 7: 2290, (2011).

26. Nishijima KA, Wall MM, Chang LC, Wei Y, Wong DKW. First report of association of Mucor circinelloides on Noni (Morinda citrifolia) in Hawaii. Plant Disease, 95: 360, (2011).

27. Kim JY, Wei Y, Li J, Kim SO. 15-μm-sized single-cellular-level and cell-manipulatable microplasma jet in cancer therapies. Biosens Bioelectron. 26: 555-9 (2010).

28. Kotturi, HSR, Li, J, Branham-O’Connor, M., Yu, X., Wagner, TE, Wei, Y. In vitro and in vivo delivery of a novel anticancer fusion protein MULT1E/FasTI via adenoviral vectors. Cancer Gene Therapy, 17: 164-170 (2010).

29. Kim, JY, Kim, SO., Wei, Y., Li, J. A flexible cold microplasma jet using biocompatible dielectric tubes for cancer therapy. Applies Physics Letter, 96: 203701 (2010).

30. Kim, JY, Ballato, J., Foy, P., Hawkins, T., Wei, Y., Li, J., Kim, SO. Single-Cell-Level Cancer Therapy Using a Hollow Optical Fiber-Based Microplasma. Small, 6: 1474-8 (2010).

31. Branham-O’Connor, M., Li, L., Kotturi, HSR, Yu, X., Wagner, TE, Wei, Y. Fusion induced reversal of dendritic cell maturation: an altered expression of inflammatory chemokine and chemokine receptors in dendritomas. Oncology Reports, 23: 545-550 (2010).

32. Zhang, X., Thorne, RE., Wagner, TE, Wei, Y. Regulatory T cells and cancer therapy: an old story with a new hope. Current Cancer Therapy Reviews, 6: 34-40 (2010).

33. Wang, R., Li, B., Wei, Y., Yao, H., Neville, BW, Peng, X., Gao, BZ. “Wavefront Division Complex Fourier-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography,” Optics Letters, in press (2009).

34. Ma, Z., Yun, JX, Wei Y., Burg, KJK, Yuan, X., Gao, BZ. Laser guidance-based cell detection. Proc. SPIE 7400: N1-N11 (2009).

35. Holle, L., Song, W., Holle, E., Wei, Y., Li, J., Wagner, TE, Yu, X. In vitro-and in vivo-targeted tumor lysis by an MMP2 cleavable melittin-LAP fusion protein. International Journal of Oncology, 35: 829-835 (2009).

36. Wei, Y., Li, J., Wagner, TE. Dendritoma Vaccine for cancer. Current Cancer Therapy Reviews, 5: 134-141 (2009).

37. Fang, L., Zhang, X., Miao, J., Zhao, F., Yang, K., Zhuang, R., Bujard, H., Wei, Y., Yang, A., Chen, L., Jin, B. Expression of CD226 Antagonizes Apoptotic Cell Death in Murine Thymocytes. Journal of Immunology, 182 (9): 5453-5460 (2009)

38. Lolle, L., Song, W., Holle, E., Nilsson, J., Wei, Y., Li, J., Wagner, TE, Yu, X. In vivo targeted killing of prostate tumor cells by a synthetic amoebapore helix 3 peptide modified with two γ-linked glutamate residues at the COOH terminus. Molecular Medicine Reports, 2:399-403 (2009).

39. Zhang, X., Li, J., Wong, D., Wagner, TE, Wei Y. Fermented Noni Exudates (fNE)-treated dendritic cells directly stimulate B lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation. Oncology Reports, 21:1147-1152 (2009).

40. Li, J., King, AV., Stickel, SL., Burgin, KE., Zhang, Z., Thomas E. Wagner, TE., Wei, Y. Whole Tumor Cell Vaccine with Irradiated S180 Cells as Adjuvant. Vaccine, 27:558-564 (2009).

41. Craig, DH, Gayer, CP., Schaubert, KL, Wei, Y., Li, J., Basson, MD. Increased extracellular pressure enhances cancer cell integrin binding affinity through phosphorylation of β1-integrin at threonine 788/789. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 296: C193-204 (2009).

42. Craig, DH, Wei, Y, Basson, MD. Increased Extracellular Pressure Enhances Cancer Cell β1Integrin Binding Affinity Through Phosphorylation of β1Integrin At Threonine 788/789. Gastroenterology , 134, A-745-A-745, (2008)

43. Ma, Z., Burg, KJL, Wei, Y., Yuan, XL, Peng, X., Gao, BZ. Laser-Guidance Detection of Cells with Single-Gene Modification. Applied Physics Letter, 92: 2139021-2139023 (2008).

44. Li, J., Stickel, S., Bouton-Verville, H., Burgin, KE, Yu, X., Wong, DKW, Wagner, TE, Wei, Y. Fermented Noni Exudates (fNE): A Mediator between Immune System and Anti-Tumor Activity. Oncology Reports, 20: 1505-1510 (2008).

45. Kotturi, HS., Li, J., Branham-O’Connor, M., Yu, X., Wagner, TE., Wei, Y. Tumor cells expressing a fusion protein of MULT1 and Fas are rejected in vivo by apoptosis and NK cell activation. Gene Therapy, 15:1302-1310 (2008).

Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.