Erwei Song

Erwei Song

Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

Erwei Song is Professor of Department of Breast Surgery at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU), “Cheung Kong Scholar" Chair Professor, CMB (China Medical Board) Distinguished Professor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (UK). Currently, he serves as Dean of Zhongshan School of Medicine and President of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital at Sun Yat-sen University.

Prof. Song obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. at Zhongshan Medical School, and was trained as a surgeon at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, SYSU. He received postdoc training at Harvard Medical School in 2002 and became an instructor at the CBR Institute of Biomedical Research at Harvard in 2004. His early publication “RNA interference targeting Fas protects mice from fulminant hepatitis” in Nature Medicine was the first to report that siRNA could be used therapeutically in whole animal disease model, and selected as one of the “Top Ten breakthroughs of the year 2003” by Science. Since 2005, when Prof. Song returned to China to set up his own lab at Sun Yat-sen University, he has focused his research on the microenvironment of malignant tumors, mainly on breast cancers, and unraveled the regulatory mechanisms of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) related to tumor microenvironment.

Prof. Song is a clinician scientist who is keen to address scientific questions derived from clinical practice. As one of the pioneers in China to perform breast-conserving surgery for beast cancer patients, he has demonstrated that breast preservation not only meets aesthetic needs, but also maintains the microenvironment tissues for activation of anti-tumor immunity by subsequent conventional anti-tumor treatments. To investigate new strategies for immunotherapy against solid tumors, he studies the regulatory roles of tumor microenvironment in cancer progression, and has achieved a series of original findings. For example, he has uncovered various new subtypes of cancer-associated immune cells and mesenchymal cells, and has further elaborated on their mechanisms, providing new insights for cancer immunotherapy. He has also identified new receptors of various crucial cytokines and revealed new pathways for immune regulation in microenvironment. Furthermore, he has reported a new archetype of long non-coding RNAs that function as signaling molecules to regulate intracellular or intercellular signal transduction, enriching current knowledge on the signaling networks in the tumor microenvironment. These findings have provided new therapeutic strategies for targeting tumor microenvironment as well as immunotherapies for solid tumors. 

In particular, Prof. Song contributes a great deal to the translational research of breast cancers at the clinical frontline. By comparing patient samples before and after treatments, he was the first to indicate the critical role of miRNAs in regulating the biology of cancer stem cells (CSC). Related findings have been published in 14 peer review journals, including Cell, and the China Spotlight of Cancer Cell has highlighted his work. By running multicenter clinical trials, he further showed that miRNA could serve as biomarkers to predict prognosis and responses of the patients to chemotherapy and Herceptin therapy.

Prof. Song has published 125 SCI research articles, including Cell (3 papers), Cancer Cell (3 papers), Nature Immunology, Nature Cell Biology, Science Translational Medicine, Nature Communications (3 papers), etc. Owing to his academic achievements, Prof. Song was invited to contribute a review article on tumor microenvironment for Nature Review Drug Discovery and chair an international Cell Symposium for Cell Press on “Functional RNAs”. As a surgeon, Dr. Song compiled the first Chinese Experts Guidelines for Breast-conserving Surgeries of Early Breast Cancer. By far, his research papers have been cited for 8438 times. As the corresponding author, he has published 56 research articles, with one of them being cited for 1287 times and twelve of them being cited for more than 100 times. 

Prof. Song serves as the associate editor for BMC Cancer, Cancer Science and Science China-Life Sciences, and the reviewing editor for Journal of Biological Chemistry. His research work was selected as Top Ten Scientific and Technological Breakthrough by the Ministry of Education in China in 2008 and 2018, respectively. He has won numerous awards, including the “Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Award” and the “National Natural Science Award” by the State Council of China, etc.