Henry H.Q. Heng, PhD

Henry H.Q. Heng, PhD
Professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics and of Pathology; Karmanos Cancer Institute
Scott Hall, Rm 3226
540 E. Canfield Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201


University of Toronto, PhD, 1994

Research Focus

Our group is searching for a new framework of cancer/organismal evolution and its clinical implications.  On the theoretical level, we have introduced the Genome Theory that considers genomic topology (or karyotype) as a new layer of key genetic information, and the genome defined “system inheritance” rather than gene/epi-gene defined “parts inheritance” represents the blueprint of bio-system.  From our experimental work, we have discovered “two phases of cancer evolution” (punctuated macro-cellular evolution and stepwise Darwinian micro-cellular evolution) that are commonly detected during the entire process of cancer formation (including immortalization, transformation, metastasis to drug resistance).  Within the punctuated phase, the genome chaos dominates, which explains the rapid cancer evolution beyond individual cancer genes. We have also established the concept/methodology of measuring genome instability based on the frequency of non-clonal chromosome aberrations, which is essential to understand the diverse molecular mechanisms of cancer in the context of somatic cell evolution.

Recent Publications

Horne SD, Pollick SA, Heng HH. Evolutionary mechanism unifies the hallmarks of cancer. Int J Cancer. 2015 136:2012-21. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29031. PMID: 24957955

Horne SD, Chowdhury SK, Heng HH. Stress, genomic adaptation, and the evolutionary trade-off. Front Genet. 2014 5:92. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00092. eCollection 2014. PMID:24795754

Heng HH. Distinguishing constitutional and acquired nonclonal aneuploidy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 111(11):E972. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323636111. Epub 2014 Jan 31. PMID: 24488973

Liu G, Stevens JB, Horne SD, Abdallah BY, Ye KJ, Bremer SW, Ye CJ, Chen DJ, Heng HH.  Genome chaos: survival strategy during crisis. Cell Cycle. 2014;13(4):528-37. doi: 10.4161/cc.27378.  PMID:24299711

Stevens JB, Liu G, Abdallah BY, Horne SD, Ye KJ, Bremer SW, Ye CJ, Krawetz SA, Heng HH.Unstable genomes elevate transcriptome dynamics. Int J Cancer. 2014 134(9):2074-87.  PMID: 24122714

Abdallah BY, Horne SD, Stevens JB, Liu G, Ying AY, Vanderhyden B, Krawetz SA, Gorelick R, Heng HH. Single cell heterogeneity: why unstable genomes are incompatible with average profiles. Cell Cycle. 2013 Dec 1;12(23):3640-9. doi: 10.4161/cc.26580.  PMID: 24091732

Heng HH. Genomics: HeLa genome versus donor's genome. Nature. 2013 501(7466):167. doi: 10.1038/501167d. PMID: 24025829

Heng HH, Bremer SW, Stevens JB, Horne SD, Liu G, Abdallah BY, Ye KJ, Ye CJ. Chromosomal instability (CIN): what it is and why it is crucial to cancer evolution. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2013 32(3-4):325-40. doi: 10.1007/s10555-013-9427-7. PMID: 23605440