Phoebe (Xian) Zhou

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PhD, MHM, BPharma
Research Support Program Fellow - Natural Products, Cardiovascular Disease and Mental Health, NICM Health Research Institute
International Engagement Coordinator, NICM Health Research Institute

Dr Phoebe (Xian) Zhou is a Research Support Program Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute with a focus on natural products research, cardiovascular disease and mental health. She joined NICM HRI in 2011 and plays an important role in strengthening the preclinical research program, focusing on synergistic mechanistic actions among constituents in complex herbal formulations.

Dr Zhou has developed several mathematical models that can be applied to quantify interaction (synergy and antagonistic) among bioactive molecules on the therapeutic targets including anti-inflammatory, apoptosis, and angiogenesis. Prior to her current role, she was the postdoctoral research officer of an ARC project at NICM HRI which investigated the synergistic mechanism of functional foods. Her research demonstrated several herbal interventions with therapeutic potential against acute inflammation with synergistic approach. The development of novel, optimal, and simplified compound-formulations from her research also led to a commercial OTC product with patented therapeutic claim for inflammatory related conditions.

Dr Zhou has extended her research field to the development of novel herbal intervention against systemic inflammation related to bacterial and viral infection (human coronavirus). She also established a novel co-culture model that is practical and efficient for the quick drug screening for their anti-neuroinflammatory and neuroprotective activities. Dr Zhou is also interested in the mechanistic actions of herbal formulations for the prevention and treatment of post-stroke and diabetic-induced cognitive dysfunction through their action in reducing neuroinflammation and the regulation of gut microbiota via the gut-brain crosstalk.

She has been actively involved in numerous collaborative projects on quality control of herbal medicines, nomenclature compendium of Chinese herbal medicines and development of drug-herb interaction online database.

Research focus

  • Pharmacological activity of natural products
  • Synergistic mechanisms
  • Acute and systemic inflammation
  • Neuroinflammation and neuroprotection
  • Gut-brain axis

Awards and recognitions

  • 2023 ISCMR Scientific Article Prize for the best article in the field of Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine in 2020 to 2021
  • 2023 Inaugural Western Ventures Award, 2023 Western Sydney University Research Impact Competition
  • 2023 NSW Cardiovascular Research Network (CVRN) Professional Development Award, NSW CVRN
  • 2022 Young Achiever of the Year Award, Complementary Medicines Australia
  • 2022 Industry Fellowship, Western Sydney University and Soho Flordis International
  • 2021 Research Support Program Fellowship, Western Sydney University
  • 2021 Researcher Development Awards, Western Sydney University
  • 2019 Improving Cardiovascular Outcome Network Early Career Researchers Program Award Recipient
  • 2015 Best Publication Award, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University
  • 2014 Best Publication Award, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University
  • 2013-2016 International Postgraduate Research Scholarships, Western Sydney University
  • 2007 3rd Class Scholarship, Chinese Pharmaceutical University


  • 2017 PhD, Western Sydney University, Australia
  • 2011 Masters of Herbal Medicines (Honours), The University of Sydney, Australia
  • 2009 Bachelor of Pharmacy, Chinese Pharmaceutical University, China


For a full list of publications please see: