Rong Huang
Rong Huang is an associate professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. Photo by Vincent Walter.


Our research spotlight for September is Rong Huang, associate professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.

What is your educational background?
I received a B.S. in Pharmacy and M.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Tongji Medical University. I obtained my PhD from Purdue MCMP department in December 2006, and postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University.

What kind of research do you do?
My research program aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of protein N-terminal modifications including methylation and acetylation, design and synthesize selective and potent inhibitors to interrogate the epigenetic pathways, and develop novel and targeted epigenetic therapies for those challenging diseases including cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, my lab has focused on protein N-terminal methyltransferases (NTMTs), N-terminal acetyltransferases (NATs), and nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT).

How long have you been doing this research?
Since I started my independent research in 2011.

What is the big-picture view of your work? For instance, how could your findings help improve quality of life around the world?
The long-term goal of our research is to develop novel targeted therapeutic agents for cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. I would be thrilled if our compounds discovered in the lab can become effective treatment to benefit patients and improve quality of life in the future.

What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
Explore unknown to push the boundaries of knowledge, and witness the growth and success of our postdoctoral fellows, undergraduate and graduate students.

Did you intend, when you were working on your degree(s), to do this kind of work? If not, how did you arrive at this place in your career?
Not at all. But I wish I knew at that time, so I can prepare myself better. I am always intrigued by developing first-in-class inhibitors for under-explored but important targets.

Which Life Sciences institute(s) are you affiliated with?
I am currently a member of DRUG and PCCR.

How has Purdue Life Sciences positively impacted your research?
I am very inspired by successful and dedicated colleagues in Purdue Life Sciences, providing great collaborative environment and training opportunities for our students.

What are some fun facts we should know about you?
I enjoy exploring nature. I never get bored by travelling to the beach, hiking,  and gardening.