UVA Chemistry People Ken

Ku-Lung (Ken) Hsu

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Pharmacology, & Molecular Physiology & Biological Physics
Room 388A, Chemistry Building


B.S. Louisiana State University, 2002

Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, 2008

Hewitt Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute, 2009-2014


Dr. Hsu’s research program applies the principles of chemistry and chemical biology to study fundamental protein biology. A current focus is to study proteins involved in metabolism of fats (i.e. lipids) because lipids are important chemical signals for basic communication in biology and historically have served as valuable targets for medicine. The Hsu lab pursues innovations in chemical proteomics and metabolomics to probe lipid molecules and pathways in living systems with the long-term goal of devising new strategies to control immune responses in human disease.


Recent publications

Reprogramming fatty acyl specificity of lipid kinases via C1 domain engineering. Ware TB, Franks CE, Granade ME, Zhang M, Kim KB, Park KS, Gahlmann A, Harris TE, and Hsu KL. Nature Chemical Biology (doi.org/10.1038/s41589-019-0445-9)

Global targeting of functional tyrosines using sulfur triazole exchange chemistry. Hahm HS*, Toroitich EK*, Borne AL*, Brulet JW*, Libby AH, Yuan K, Ware TB, McCloud RL, Ciancone AM, and Hsu KL. Nature Chemical Biology (doi.org/10.1038/s41589-019-0404-5)

Diacylglycerol lipase-beta is required for TNF-alpha response but not CD8+ T cell priming capacity of dendritic cells. Shin M, Buckner A, Prince J, Bullock TNJ, and Hsu KL. Cell Chemical Biology 26, 1036-1041 (2019).

Isoform-selective activity-based profiling of ERK signaling. Shin M, Franks CE, and Hsu KL. Chemical Science 9, 2419-2431 (2018).

The ligand binding landscape of diacylglycerol kinases. Franks CE, Campbell ST, Purow BW, Harris TE, and Hsu KL. Cell Chemical Biology 24, 870-880 (2017).


Awards and Honors

  • NSF CAREER (2020)
  • Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award (2018)
  • DOD Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Career Development Award (2016) 
  • NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (2015)