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Ho Lam Tang, Ph.D.

Headshot of Ho Lam Tang
  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Research Interests

Anastasis; Cell death and Survival


Ho Lam Tang, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery in the Division of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He discovered an interesting and unexpected recovery mechanism that dying cells could use to escape from the brink of cell death. Programmed cell death, such as apoptosis has long been assumed as a one-way process ending in cell suicide. Challenging this general dogma, Dr. Tang demonstrated that dying cancer cells and primary cells can reverse the initiated apoptotic process, even at late execution stages, which are widely believed to be the “point of no return”. He coined a term “Anastasis”, which means “Rising to life” in Greek, to describe the recovery of dying cells.

Tang laboratory aims to understand the functional roles, pathological potentials, and therapeutic implications of anastasis. Anastasis could play important roles in mediating cell death and survival by limiting apoptosis during embryonic development and normal homeostasis. Enhancing anastasis to avert apoptosis and help spare injured neurons and heart cells may be beneficial for treating brain injury and heart failure, respectively. Conversely, suppressing anastasis in dying cancer cells, undergoing apoptosis due to anti-cancer therapies, may promote cancer cell death and reduce the chances of recurrence. A better understanding of what normally regulates anastasis is critical to understand the natural functions of anastasis, and to leverage this process for therapeutic applications. more


  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Departments / Divisions



  • Ph.D.; Chinese University of Hong Kong (China) (2011)

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

Tang, H.L., Yuen, K.L., Tang, H.M. and Fung, M.C. (2009) Reversibility of apoptosis in cancer cells. British Journal of Cancer 100, 118-122.

Tang, H.L.,* Tang, H.M., Mak, K.H., Hu, S., Wang, S.S., Wong, K.M., Wong, C.S., Wu, H.Y., Law, H.T., Liu, K., Talbot, C.C. Jr., Lau, W.K., Montell, D.J.* and Fung, M.C.* (2012) Cell survival, DNA damage, and oncogenic transformation after a transient and reversible apoptotic response. Molecular Biology of the Cell 23, 2240-2252. (Highlighted Article) * Co-corresponding authors

Tang, H.L.,* Tang, H.M., Fung, M.C.* and Hardwick, J.M.* (2015) In vivo CaspaseTracker biosensor system for detecting anastasis and non-apoptotic caspase activity. Scientific Reports 5, doi:10.1038/srep09015. * Co-corresponding authors

Tang, H.M.*, Talbot, C.C. Jr., Fung, M.C.* and Tang, H.L.* (2017) Molecular signature of anastasis for reversal of apoptosis. F1000 Research 6, 43, doi: 10.12688/f1000research.10568.2. * Co-corresponding authors

Tang, H.M.* and Tang, H.L.* (2018) Anastasis: recovery from the brink of cell death. Royal Society Open Science, doi: 10.1098/rsos.180442 (Invited Review Article) * Co-corresponding authors

Activities & Honors


  • The Fulbright Grant (2009)
  • The Dr. Walter Szeto Memorial Scholarship (2010)
  • The Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fellowship (2010)
  • The Ruth D. Vogel Professional Development Award (2012)
  • The John G. Rangos Award Winner for Creativity in Cancer Discovery, 3rd Prize (2013)
  • The Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation Fellow of the Life Science Research Foundation, (2014-2017)
  • The Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award (2017)
  • The NCI Transition Career Development Award (2017-2020)


  • Genetics Society of America (GSA), Member
  • American Heart Association (AHA), Member
  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), Member
  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Active Member
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