Oral history interview with Yue Xiong

Oral history interview with Yue Xiong

  • 2000-Oct-09 – 2000-Oct-11
Photograph of Yue Xiong

Yue Xiong was born in Nanchang, in Jiang Xi province, in the southern part of China, the eldest of three siblings (he has two younger sisters). His father was a forestry scholar who was sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution. His mother learned some accounting work from an uncle, and she supported Xiong and her mother-in-law for several years while her husband was gone, all the while suffering with the effects of nutritional deficiency. When Xiong's father was finally allowed to return to his family, he was assigned to Nanhu, where Xiong lived until he left for college. After he finished high school Xiong worked on the farm where his family lived and taught elementary and junior high school. When the Cultural Revolution ended and the colleges reopened Xiong was able to take the entrance exam and finally to attend college. He matriculated at Fudan University, which impacted both his farm and his community, pursuing a broad education until deciding to become a scientist. Xiong entered graduate school in the lab of San-Chiun Shen, at which time he found molecular biology in China to be out of sync with the performance of science elsewhere. Nevertheless, he had a keen interest in learning modern molecular genetics, and James Watson's book on the molecular biology of the gene had a great impact on him; he worked with David Ow on a nitrogen-fixation gene. Interested in the China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program (CUSBEA), Xiong spent time at the Guangzhou English Learning Center (GELC). Subsequently, Xiong's CUSBEA application to the University of Rochester was accepted, and on Dr. Shen's advice he went there. Transitioning to American culture took time, but he soon entered Thomas Eickbush's laboratory researching DNA sequencing and transposable elements of the chorea gene. Xiong helped develop the mild-extracting method for isolating linealized and supercoiled DNA and he also worked on the evolution of transposable elements and the analysis of reverse transcriptase. He considered several postdoctoral positions, including one with Harold Varmus, though finally decided to accept an offer in David Beach's lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. He participated in a genetic approach to isolate G1 cyclinin mammalian cells; helped discover cyclin gene activation during the G1 phase; and studied the effect of p21 and CDKon cyclin. From Cold Spring Harbor he accepted a position at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looking at cell-cycle control and tumor suppression. At the end of the interview, Xiong talks about the possible applications of his research; the future path of his research; his lack of bench time; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award; the impact and importance of technology on Xiong's work; and collaboration and competition in science. Xiong concludes his interview by explaining how he attempts to balance career and family responsibilities (his parents are still in China).

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 187 pages
  • 7 h 55 m 2 s
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute
Digitization funder
  • Audio synchronization made possible through the generous funding of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Physical location

Oral history number 0586
Physical container
  • Shelfmark R134.86.X5664 A5 2000

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Interviewee biographical information

  • June 05, 1958
  • Nanchang, China


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1982 Fu dan da xue (Shanghai, China) BS Biology
1984 Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology MS
1989 University of Rochester PhD Biology

Professional Experience

University of Rochester

  • 1989 to 1990 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

  • 1990 to 1993 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • 1993 to 1999 Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • 1993 Member, Program in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 1999 Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics


Year(s) Award
1995 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
1999 1999 United States Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Career Development Award
1999 UNC Hettleman Award for Scholarly Achievement

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PDF — 1.2 MB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

11 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads