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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Qingbo Xu, MD, PhD


Chair of Cardiovascular Science

Centre: Clinical Pharmacology and Precision Medicine

Telephone: +44(0) 20 7882 6584


Professor Xu qualified in Medicine at Peking Union Medical College and then went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Innsbruck Medical School in Austria. As a Forgarty fellow he spent two years at the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, National Institutes of Health, USA. He was appointed Professor in Cardiovascular Science at St George’s Hospital in 2000 and then to the BHF John Parker Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences at King’s College London in 2006. In 2020, he moved to Queen Mary University of London. He has an international profile in vascular biology as evidenced by his numerous invited lectures at national and international scientific meetings, chairing of many research conferences, service on the editorial boards of eminent journals (e.g. Consulting Editor, the American Heart Association Journal ATVB), and membership on national and international committees. He is also an editor of the widely-used guide ‘Handbook of Mouse Models of Cardiovascular Disease’. Professor Xu was awarded the Austrian Cardinal Prize for Medicine in 1993 and the Rokitansky Prize for Pathology in 1995, as well as several visiting professorships.


Group members

Xiaolei Sun (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)


  • Stem cells
  • The pathogenesis of atherosclerosis
  • Vascular biology
  • Animal models

His research interest is lying on the translational aspect of vascular biology. Two research projects are carried out in the group:

  1. Stem/progenitor cells and atherosclerosis: Recent evidence indicates that stem/progenitor cells play a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Using mouse models, Professor Xu’s group has demonstrated that both endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells within atherosclerotic lesions of vein grafts and allografts are derived from stem/progenitor cells. His group has found that abundant stem/progenitor cells exist in the arterial adventitia. His team is studying the contribution of stem/progenitor cells to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, clarifying the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation into endothelial and smooth muscle cells, and testing a potential use of stem cell therapy for vascular disease. Mechanistically, his group has found that several crucial genes localised in the nucleus play a key role in stem cell differentiation. These studies aim to clarify how a stem cell becomes a vascular cell, i.e. a signal pathway from stimulation to cell nucleus response. These molecules could also be considered as a target for promoting endothelial repair/regeneration, which could be a new drug target.

  2. Vascular tissue engineering: A new bioreactor to generate artificial blood vessels has been established and improved recently. This equipment allows us to create a blood vessel using stem cell-derived vascular cells more effectively. Three steps are required to create a blood vessel: 1) culturing stem cells and differentiating the cells to vascular progenitors, 2) preparing scaffold, and 3) re-popularising of the vessel scaffold by incorporating vascular progenitor cells to form artificial blood vessels. The study found that it is crucial to have good endothelial function in order for the vessel to have a function. This vessel is now well-prepared ex vivo in the laboratory. The aim is to create a functional blood vessel useful for in vivo application.

Key Publications

  1. Chen K, Mou R, Zhu P, Xu X, Wang H, Jiang L, Hu Y, Hu X, Ma L, Xiao Q, Xu Q. The effect of lymphangiogenesis in transplant arteriosclerosis. Circulation.2023;147:482-497.
  2. Wang F, Qin K, Wang K, Wang H, Liu Q, Qian M, Chen S, Sun Y, Hou J, Wei Y, Hu Y, Li Z, Xu Q, Zhao Q. Nitric oxide improves regeneration and prevents calcification in bio-hybrid vascular grafts via regulation of vascular stem/progenitor cells. Cell Rep. 2022;39(12):110981.
  3. Jiang L, Chen T, Sun S, Wang R, Deng J, Lyu L, Wu H, Yang M, Pu X, Du L, Chen Q, Hu Y, Hu X, Zhou Y, Xu Q, Zhang L. Nonbone marrow CD34+ cells are crucial for endothelial repair of injured artery. Circ. Res. 2021;129:e146-e165 [A image selected as the cover picture]. 
  4. Fu Y, Huang Y, Yang Z, Chen Y, Zheng J, Mao C, Li Z, Liu Z, Yu B, Li T, Wang M, Xu C, Zhou Y, Zhao G, Jia Y, Guo W, Jia X, Zhang T, Li L, Liu Z, Guo S, Ma M, Zhang H, Liu B, Du J, Wang W, Tang C, Gao P, Xu Q, Wang X, Liu J, Sun J, Kong W. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein is an endogenous β-arrestin-2-selective allosteric modulator of AT1 receptor counteracting vascular injury. Cell Res. 2021;31:773-790.
  5. Cai J, Deng J, Gu W, Ni Z, Liu Y, Kamra Y, Saxena A, Hu Y, Yuan H, Xiao Q, Lu Y, Xu Q. Impact of local alloimmunity and recipient cells in transplant arteriosclerosis. Circ.Res.  2020;127:974-993 [Accompanied by an Editorial: 127:994-996].
  6. Lu Y, Pechlaner R, Cai J, Yuan H, Huang Z, Yang G, Wang J, Chen Z, Kiechl S, and Xu Q. Trajectories of age-related arterial stiffness in Chinese men and women. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2020;75:870–880 [Accompanied by an Editorial: 75:881-883].
  7. Fan Y, Chen Y, Zhang J, Yang F, Hu Y, Zhang L, Zeng C, Xu Q. Protective role of RNA helicase DEAD-box protein 5 in smooth muscle cell proliferation and vascular remodeling. Circ. Res2019;124:e84-e100 [Accompanied by an Editorial: 124:1504-1507].
  8. Issa Bhaloo S, Wu Y, LE Bras A, Yu B, Gu W, Xie Y, Deng J, Wang Z, Zhang Z, Kong D, Hu Y, Qu A, Zhao Q, Xu Q. Binding of Dickkopf-3 to CXCR7 Enhances Vascular Progenitor Cell Migration and Degradable Graft Regeneration. Circ. Res. 2018;123:451-466.
  9. Zhang L, Issa Bhaloo S, Chen T, Zhou B, Xu Q. Role of resident stem cells in vessel formation and arteriosclerosis. Circ. Res. 2018;122:1608-1624.
  10. He L, Huang X, Kanisicak O, Li Y, Wang Y, Li Y, Pu W, Liu Q, Zhang H, Tian X, Zhao H, Liu X, Zhang S, Nie Y, Hu S, Miao X, Wang QD, Wang F, Chen T, Xu Q, Lui KO, Molkentin JD, Zhou B. Preexisting endothelial cells mediate cardiac neovascularization after injury. J. Clin. Invest 2017;127:2968-2981.
  11. Yu B, Kiechl S, Qi D, Wang X, Song Y, Weger S, Mayr A, Le Bras A, Karamariti E, Zhang Z, Del Barco Barrantes I, Niehrs C, Schett G, Hu Y, Wang W, Willeit J, Qu A, Xu Q. A Cytokine-like protein Dickopf-related protein 3 is atheroprotective. Circulation. 2017;136:1022-1036.




  • Professor Bin Zhou (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)
  • Professor Stefan Kiechl (University of Innsbruck, Austria)


No disclosures.

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