Xiaolin Nan, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine
  • Member, CEDAR, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine
  • Associate Member, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine


Xiaolin Nan received his B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from Peking University, Beijing, and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University. His graduate studies focused on wet-chemistry approaches to fabricating aligned single wall carbon nanotubes and the biophysical analysis of dynamic processes in living cells using high time resolution, spatial precision and chemical selectivity strategies.

As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Steven Chu at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Joe Gray at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Frank McCormick at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Nan developed a novel approach for single-molecule counting and localization based on photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), a recent superresolution microscopy technique. He used the approach to investigate the oncogenic processes involving the Ras small GTPases and the Raf kinase, where he discovered that Ras-GTP dimers activate Raf to drive oncogenesis by causing Raf to form dimers, a breakthrough in our basic understanding of Ras biology with potential impact on therapeutic targeting of mutant Ras in human cancers.

Dr. Nan joined the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) as an Assistant Professor in June 2012. He is also a member of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine (OCSSB), and an associate member of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Acknowledging the promise of his work as a young, innovative cancer researcher, Xiaolin Nan was named a Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Investigator in 2013 by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. In 2017, Dr. Nan officially joined the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR) at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute with a joint appointment with the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine.


  • B.S., 1998, Peking University
  • M.S., 2001, Peking University
  • Ph.D., 2007, Harvard University
  • Fellowship:

    • Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 2012

Areas of interest

  • Systems Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Superresolution microscopy
  • Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM)
  • Ras biology



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