Tan, Justin L.

Tan, Justin L.


Institute of Cancer Research

Junior Principal Investigator

Home page of research group:


  • 2020 - Present

    Shenzhen Bay Laboratory         Junior Principal Investigator

  • 2017 - 2020

    Genome Institute of Singapore         Junior Principal Investigator

  • 2015 - 2020

    Cancer Science Institute, NUS         Research Fellow

  • 2014 - 2015

    Boston Children's Hospital         Postdoctoral Fellow

  • 2009 - 2014

    Harvard University         Ph.D.

  • 2008 - 2009

    Genome Institute of Singapore         Research Officer

  • 2005 - 2008

    University of California, Los Angeles         B.Sc.

Research Areas


The Tan lab focuses on drugging cell fate, where advanced chemical biology methods are developed and applied to identify natural product and synthetic chemical probes targeting a class of oncogenes called lineage transcription factors. The malfunctioning of these lineage factors pushes normal cells toward a cancer cell fate. Understanding the underlying disease mechanisms of these factors is crucial for downstream cancer therapeutic development.









Justin's work has been published in high impact journals such as Molecular Cell, Science, and Gastroenterology. He is an inventor on a patent for novel cancer therapeutics. Justin had received nearly 5,000,000 RMB of grants while he was a Junior Principal Investigator in Singapore. He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research.








• National Science Scholarship (Singapore)

• 100 Global Young Scientific Leaders (Gap Summit)

• Certificate of Distinction in Teaching (Harvard)






Current Openings


Associate Research Fellow / Assistant Research Fellow





Selected Publications

1. Tenen DG, Chai L & Tan JL*. Metabolic alterations and vulnerabilities in hepatocellular carcinoma. Gastroenterology Report, (2020). *Corresponding author. [Invited review article]

2. Tan JL*, Li F, Yeo JZ, Yong KJ, Bassal MA, Ng GH, Lee MY, Leong CY, Tan HK, Wu CS, Liu BH, Chan TH, Tan ZH, Chan YS, Wang S, Lim ZH, Toh TB, Hooi L, Low KN, Ma S, Kong NR, Stein AJ, Wu Y, Thangavelu MT, Suzuki A, Periyasamy G, Asara JM, Dan YY, Bonney GK, Chow EK, Lu G, Ng HH, Kanagasundaram Y, Ng SB, Tam WL, Tenen DG & Chai L. New High-throughput Screen Identifies Compounds That Reduce Viability Specifically In Liver Cancer Cells That Express High Levels of SALL4 by Inhibiting Oxidative Phosphorylation. Gastroenterology 157, 1615 (2019). *Co-corresponding author. [Editorial Highlight in Gastroenterology]

3. Tan JL, Fogley RD, Flynn RA, Ablain J, Yang S, Saint-André V, Fan ZP, Do BT, Laga AC, Fujinaga K, Santoriello C, Greer CB, Kim YJ, Clohessy JG, Bothmer A, Pandell N, Avagyan S, Brogie JE, van Rooijen E, Hagedorn EJ, Shyh-Chang N, White RM, Price DH, Pandolfi PP, Peterlin BM, Zhou Y, Kim TH, Asara JM, Chang HY, Young RA & Zon LI. Stress from nucleotide depletion activates the transcriptional regulator HEXIM1 to suppress melanoma. Mol. Cell 62, 34-46 (2016). [Highlighted in News and Views in Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research]

4. Kaufman CK, Mosimann C, Fan ZP, Yang S, Thomas AJ, Ablain J, Tan JL, Fogley RD, van Rooijen E, Hagedorn EJ, Ciarlo C, White RM, Matos DA, Puller AC, Santoriello C, Liao EC, Young RA, Zon LI. A zebrafish melanoma model reveals emergence of neural crest identity during melanoma initiation. Science 351, 464 (2016). 

5. Tan JL & Zon LI. Chemical screening in zebrafish for novel biological and therapeutic discovery. Methods Cell Biol. 105, 493-516 (2011).