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Yanguang Cao

Associate Professor

Yanguang Cao, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


(919) 966-4040
2318 Kerr Hall, 301 Pharmacy Lane, CB# 7569, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599

Dr. Yanguang (Carter) Cao is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a B.S. in Pharmacology, he has extensive expertise in Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP), Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics, and Computational Oncology and Immunology. Dr. Cao leads a dynamic and diverse team of experts working in the field of QSP and Model-Informed Drug Discovery and Development, with a particular focus on antibody-based therapeutics. His groundbreaking work includes the development of cutting-edge modeling and simulation platforms, as well as molecular imaging tools, to better understand and overcome challenges associated with drug development, translation, and clinical application. Dr. Cao has a wealth of experience in collaborating with clinicians, drug regulatory agencies, and the pharmaceutical industry, which has enabled him to make significant contributions to the field of pharmaceutical sciences and computational pharmacology.

Dr. Cao has made significant contributions to the scientific community, with over 60 peer-reviewed papers published as of 2022. He has been a senior author on publications in prestigious journals such as Nat Commun (2022), Cancer Res (2020, 2021), Clin Pharmacol Ther (2021), Nat Biomed Eng (2019), iScience (2019), and eLife (2023). His research has been widely cited, demonstrating the impact and importance of his work in the field of pharmaceutical sciences and computational pharmacology. His group is currently funded by the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

Representative papers:


The Cao Lab’s research is broadly focused on quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP), pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD), and systems biology. Dr. Cao combines molecular imaging and computational modeling tools to study the immune system and immunotherapy. Specifically, his lab employ QSP modeling approaches coupled with molecular imaging and statistical modeling to resolve the mechanistic complexities of antibody PK/PD, disease progression and evolution, and immunodynamics. His group uses QSP and computational models to deconvolute the multiplex and multilateral interactions among disease, the immune system, and antibody therapies, disclosing the dynamics and mechanisms of the immune system in response to the constantly evolving diseases.

The Cao Lab is currently pursuing the following topics:

  • Integrating antibody PK/PD and host system to optimize antibody-based therapies
  • Developing molecular imaging approaches to trace antibody, the immune system, and tumor cells
  • Modeling effector and target cell-cell interaction predicts efficacy and resistance to antibody therapy
  • Exploring spatial/temporal harmonization between immune systems and immunotherapy

View Complete List of Publications

Research in the Cao Lab investigates antibody pharmacology and treatment resistance using QSP and molecular imaging approaches with spatiotemporal resolution. We have developed and applied multiscale QSP models to characterize antibody PK/PD, disease heterogeneity and evolution, and immune response dynamics. Our models have unveiled many hidden mechanisms of resistance to therapeutic antibodies.

Learn More About the Cao Lab

Optimizing antibody-based therapy through a system platform of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and immunodynamics

  • B.S. in Pharmacology, China Pharmaceutical University
  • Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences, China Pharmaceutical University
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Res. Assistant Professor of System pharmacology, State University of New York at Buffalo

Yanguang “Carter” Cao News