Guoyan Zhao, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Zhao Lab | Google Scholar Profile | Neurotree


Transcriptional regulation largely determines the spatiotemporal specificity and dynamic patterns of gene expression during development and in response to environmental stimuli. We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the precise control of gene expression in the nervous system and how changes in the regulation contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson disease (PD) and Lewy body diseases (LBDs). We employ multiple cutting-edge computational and experimental approaches to understand the gene regulatory controls. We take snapshots of the regulatory systems using single-cell omics and imaging assays. We develop computational algorithms to integrate data and generate testable models of gene regulatory pathways to guide our experimental design and test our predictions in model systems. Our long-term goal is to provide novel insights into the mechanism of disease pathogenesis and new biomarkers and targets for disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment development.

Selected publications

  • Pita-Thomas W, Gonçalves TG, Kumar A, Zhao G,* Cavalli V* (*co-corresponding). Genome-wide chromatin accessibility analyses provide a map for enhancing optic nerve regeneration. Sci Rep. 2021; 11:14924.
  • Hou Y, Lee HJ, Chen Y, Ge S, Osman FOI, McAdow R, Mokalled M, Johnson SL, Zhao G*, Wang T* (*co-corresponding). Cellular diversity of the regenerating caudal fin. Science Advances. 2020; 6(33): eaba2084. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2084.
  • Chen X, Zhang B, Wang T, Bonni A, Zhao G. Robust principal component analysis for accurate outlier sample detection in RNA-Seq data. BMC Bioinformatics. 2020; 21(1):269.
  • Goodman JV, Yamada T, Yang Y, Kong L, Wu DY, Zhao G, Gabel HW, Bonni A. The chromatin remodeling enzyme Chd4 regulates genome architecture in the mouse brain. Nat Commun. 2020; 11(1):3419.
  • Clemens AW, Wu DY, Moore JR, Christian DL, Zhao G, Gabel HW. MeCP2 represses enhancers through chromosome topology-associated DNA methylation. Molecular Cell. Jan 16, 2020; 77(2):279-293.
  • Zhao G, Ihuegbu N, Lee M, Schriefer L, Wang T, Stormo GD. Conserved Motifs and Prediction of Regulatory Modules in Caenorhabditis elegans. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 2012; 2(4): 469-481.

See a complete list of Dr. Zhao’s publications on PubMed.


1995 BS, Environmental Biology, Peking University, P. R. China

1998  MS, Molecular Cell Biology, Peking University, P. R. China

2003 PhD, Molecular Cell Biology, Washington University School of Medicine

2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University School of Medicine

Selected honors

2005 NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

2016 DDRCC Pilot and Feasibility Award

2017 DDRCC Pilot and Feasibility Award

2019 GTAC@MGI Symposium Pilot Award