James M. Phang, M.D.

James M. Phang, M.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Mouse Cancer Genetics Program


Dr. Phang’s laboratory, the Metabolism and Cancer Susceptiblity Section, pioneered studies of the regulatory functions of the amino acid, proline. His discoveries provided seminal insights into tumor reprogramming and metabolic epigenetics and introduced novel strategies for cancer therapy. Dr. Phang's laboratory showed that proline dehydrogenase (a.k.a. proline oxidase) is regulated by p53, PPARgamma and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) to produce signaling reactive oxygen species (ROS) to initiate apoptosis, autophagy and other stress responses. Proline biosynthetic pathways regulate redox to control bioenergetics and cell growth. This metabolic axis constituted a new paradigm for epigenetics and for the regulation of stem cell development.

Areas of Expertise

1) tumor metabolism 2) metabolic reprogramming 3) epigenetics