Center for USC-Taiwan Translational Research

The Center for USC-Taiwan Translational Research focuses on promising new work in the fight against cancer. USC Trustee Daniel M. Tsai made a gift to the USC School of Pharmacy to establish the USC Daniel Tsai Fund for Translational Research which supports center activities. Currently, center scientists are exploring new cancer therapies that target monoamine oxidase (MAO). Dr. Jean Chen Shih, internationally known for her decades-long, foundational exploration on MAO, directs the center.

Cell1-300x300Central to the activities of the center are the awarding of fellowships to promising graduate students and postdoctoral trainees from Taiwan and USC to allow them to work together side-by-side on translational research endeavors. These “Tsai Scholars” will spend one to two years in USC School of Pharmacy laboratories, learning cutting-edge techniques as they work on novel research programs that aim to develop the next generation of therapeutics. Tsai Scholars will be integral members of these translational research teams.

These teams are investigating the use of MAO inhibitors in the treatment of cancer. Recent work from the lab of Dr. Shih has shown that elimination of the gene that encodes monoamine oxidase (MAO) prevents the growth of prostate cancer in mice. As MAO is an important regulator of mood and motivation in the brain, there are already a number of drugs that effectively inhibit its function, called MAOI (MAO inhibitors), which are used clinically as antidepressants.

Given the urgent and unmet need for more effective target-based therapies to significantly reduce the lethal outcome of prostate cancer, the repurposing of these drugs may represent a rapid and cost-effective solution. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to translate scientific discovery to patient therapies on an accelerated timeframe.

Dr. Shih, a University Professor and the Boyd P. and Elsie D. Welin Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, is a globally recognized expert on the MAO genes. Her expertise will be complemented by a group of colleague scientists from USC and in Taiwan. The center will provide a unique international collaboration for students and their mentors.

Center Faculty at USC

Jean Chen Shih, PhD, Director
Interaction of MAO A and B with cancer stem cells, immune system in prostate and brain cancer.

Kevin Chen, PhD
Development of antibody biomarkers and the treatment for autism using MAO A ko mice.

Clay Wang, PhD
Genomic approach for isolating MAO inhibitors from natural product.

Mitchell E. Gross, MD, PhD
Therapeutic effects of MAO inhibitors on prostate cancer patients. (Keck School of Medicine)

Florence Hofman, PhD
MAO inhibitors as a novel therapy for glioma cancer. (Keck Medical School)

Thomas Chen, MD, PhD
Therapeutic effects of MAO inhibitors on brain cancer patients. (Keck Medical School)

Advisory Board

Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, PhD
Professor, USC School of Pharmacy Scientific Project: Drug delivery and intracellular trafficking of nanoparticles.


Cell2-300x300As part of a truly global university – one with the largest number of international students of any American university and an expansive worldwide alumni network – the USC School of Pharmacy has engaged in academic and scientific exchange relationships with partners from around the world for decades. These collaborations extend throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, South America and Africa.

Located in Los Angeles, the capital of the Pacific Rim, the USC School of Pharmacy is uniquely positioned to cultivate global relationships that advance scientific discovery and enhance the training of tomorrow’s scientists.

Related News

USC-Taiwan Translational Research Center Hosts Session at International Symposium in Taipei
Antidepressant May Also Fight Prostate Cancer
USC Trustee’s Gift Launches New Center to Target Cancer
New Study Aims to Help Eradicate Prostate Cancer

More Information

For more information about the center, please contact Dr. Jean Chen Shih or 323.442.1441.