The VICC.ORG Investigator Directory

Fen Xia, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Patient Contact Information:

The Vanderbilt Clinic (TVC) - Preston Research Building
Department of Radiation Oncology
1301 22nd Ave., South, B1003
Nashville, TN 37232-5671
Appointments: 615-322-2555
Further Information: 1-800-811-8480
Fax: 615-343-0161

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Radiation Oncology
22nd at Pierce Avenue, B1034
Nashville, TN 37232-5671
Phone: 615-322-2555
Fax: 615-343-3075


Dr. Xia is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and an established physician scientist at Vanderbilt. Dr. Xia provides comprehensive radiation treatment for patients with brain tumor using the latest technologies, including intensity modulated radiation therapy, imaging guided radiotherapy, Brachytherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery. Dr. Xia's laboratory is pioneering on studying how cancer cells can efficiently repair their damaged DNA and resist to therapy. Her research aims at identifying novel molecular targets to enhance brain tumor response to treatment.

Research Specialty:

DNA damage response, chromosomal break repair, apoptosis.

Research Description:

Research in the Xia laboratory focuses on elucidating the mechanisms that regulate the repair of chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSB) that arise during physiological DNA metabolism and after radiation therapy or chemotherapy. We aim to understand 1) the impact of deregulated DSB repair on carcinogenesis and the development of tumor resistance to therapy and 2) to explore novel avenues of cancer treatment targeting the DSB repair pathways. We have developed an array of intrachromosomal and extrachromosomal repair substrates that allow analysis of the quantity and quality of DSB repair by different mechanisms in mammalian cells. An understanding of the defects of DNA repair and its interplay with apoptosis in tumors may offer novel avenues for both cancer prevention and tailored therapy.

Project 1: There are several DSB repair subpathways, each with different impacts on mutagenesis and cell viability. Our main interests in this area are 1) understanding how cells determine which subpathway to use and 2) how regulation of these subpathways may be altered during carcinogenesis and cancer and determine tumor response to cancer therapies.

Project 2: Another major goal of our lab is to understand how DNA repair machinery communicates with cell death machinery in order to maintain genomic stability. We have begun these studies by examining BRCA1, a tumor suppressor involved in DSB repair and able to induce apoptosis, and Bid, a proapoptotic protein recently discovered to be involved in the DNA damage response. Brain tumors are among the model systems used for this project.

Project 3: Our research group has made an intriguing finding that indicates genetically wild type BRCA1 function can be disrupted by its mislocalization within the cell. We have also found another important tumor suppressor p53 is involved in regulating BRCA1’s nuclear/cytoplasmic shuttling.

We are currently studying the molecular mechanism that regulates this shuttling and the potential use of BRCA1 mislocalization as a biomarker for tailored cancer therapy.

An opening is available for interested candidates in any of the three areas of research.



  • Ph.D. - Harvard University, 1996
  • M.D. - Suzhou Medical College, 1983
  • Residency - Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2006
  • Internship - New England Medical Center, 2002


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