The Xu lab studies one of the most fascinating biomacromolecules called heparan sulfate. Heparan sulfate is a highly negatively charged unbranched polysaccharide only found in animals. The structure and function of heparan sulfate became more complex and diverse during animal evolution, most notably during the evolution of vertebrates. To take advantage of this extremely versatile polysaccharide, hundreds of proteins have evolved to be heparan sulfate-binding proteins. By binding to heparan sulfate, heparan sulfate-binding proteins gained a brand-new way to alter their conformations and oligomeric states, their localization at the cell membrane and in the extracellular matrix, and how they interact with other binding partners.  The structural complexity of heparan sulfate is ingrained in the complexity of the body plan and physiology of animals, especially vertebrates. Understanding how heparan sulfate regulates the structure and function of various heparan sulfate-binding proteins is therefore a key component to fully grasp animal physiology. Such understanding will undoubtedly provide opportunities for development of novel therapeutics. 

Joining Xu Lab

We are actively recruiting a postdoctoral scholar and a PhD student to join our highly productive team (2020/08).


The prospective postdoc will be supported by an NIH T32 training grant. Applicants with backgrounds in any discipline of biomedical sciences are welcome to apply. The main appeal of joining the Xu lab is the prospect of developing your own projects and obtain a truly multidisciplinary skill sets. Regardless of your future career goals, you will for sure learn what you desire in the Xu lab. (This position is open only to U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident per NIH rules). 

For prospective PhD student, we always welcome rotation students from UB Biomedical Sciences PPBS program. Prospective students can also apply directly to Oral Biology PhD program, and please note that a background in dentistry is not required for application. Oral Biology PhD student will be supported by the PI from the very first year, and interested applicants (including international students) are encouraged to contact Dr. Xu directly prior to submitting formal application to the program. You can also contact our three current PhD students (Lab members) for more direct information about PhD training in the lab. 

Lab address:

660 Biomedical Research Building (BRB)

3435 Main St.

Buffalo, NY 14214

Tel: 716-829-3509