Sam Xing named Next Generation Innovator of the Year

April 16, 2024
Sam and Ohio State delegation at Research Showcase

Enming (Sam) Xing, a third-year PhD student in The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, received the 2024 Ohio State Next Generation Innovator of the Year Award. Xing is co-advised by Associate Professor Tom Li, PhD, and Professor Xiaolin Cheng, PhD. This is the second year in a row that a student from the College of Pharmacy received the award, following Tosin Ayinde’s honor in 2023

The Next Generation Innovator of the Year Award recognizes a postdoctoral, undergraduate or graduate student for innovation and entrepreneurship that has contributed to the development or commercialization of a new technology or a trainee-initiated start-up company whose success is a result of entrepreneurial talent, creativity and energy.

“What sets Sam apart is his exceptional independence and willingness to take on challenges,” Dr. Cheng said. “He is not only the most self-motivated student I have encountered but also the most independent, consistently thinking of innovative solutions to research problems. However, despite his independence, Sam remains a team player, fostering collaboration and maintaining focus within the research team.”

Xing’s work focuses the application of cutting-edge techniques in the drug discovery and development space, such as computational chemistry, artificial intelligence, biological assays, cryo-EM and x-ray crystallography. His current thesis research contains four different projects: 

  1. The elucidation of the structural mechanisms of a viral genome packaging motor 
  2. The development of dual inhibitors for the treatment of prostate cancer
  3. The development of ET domain binder of BRD4 for cancers
  4. The development of small molecules RBD binder for treatment of COVID19 

His work has led to a total of six peer-reviewed manuscripts, with two of these being first/co-first author publications. In addition, Xing is an inventor on four patent/provisional patent applications through the university. Notably, all four patent applications are for different therapeutic targets (three in cancer and one for COVID-19) spanning unique classes of molecules that represent new composition of matter. 

“Having worked in drug development for 16 years, I have not encountered anyone else with Sam’s natural ability to learn new techniques and quickly apply them to relevant drug discovery and development problems,” said Chris Coss, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology.

Xing’s work has been recognized with a research award through the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy and a Trainee Transformative Research Grant through the Ohio State Infectious Diseases Institute.

“The ability to collaborate and contribute unique skills to research projects is recognized as a strength of modern team science,” said Jim Fuchs, PhD, associate dean for research and graduate studies at the Ohio State College of Pharmacy. “Sam clearly represents the concept of ‘scientific innovation’ in our graduate student population and has the potential to translate his outstanding research skills to life-changing therapies in the future.”