Baylor College of Medicine

The Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, with the Alkek Fountain at the entrance.

Dr. Yudong Gao named McNair Scholar at BCM

Graciela Gutierrez


Houston, TX -

Dr. Yudong Gao, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, has been named the College’s newest McNair Scholar.

The McNair Scholars program, launched by The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute, identifies and recruits the best and brightest scientists in neuroscience, with a focus on neuromodulation.

“I am deeply grateful for the support from the McNair Scholars program. I have always dreamed of starting a laboratory that interfaces neuroscience with protein engineering to decipher brain function and dysregulation. The McNair Scholars program enables me to fulfill that dream. It is such an honor,” Gao said.

Gao’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of brain conditions, particularly how protein interactions mediate critical biological processes in neurodevelopment. He has pioneered a new CRISPR-based protein engineering approach but also employs a range of other techniques such as proximity proteomics and computational biology to help understand how to identify and manipulate protein interactions and modulate neural functions with a goal of finding possible treatment options for certain brain conditions.   

While at Baylor, he plans to work on understanding how synaptic and axonal protein networks are affected in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions.  

“Building on my postdoctoral research that established a working paradigm for mapping and interrogating native proteomic interactions, my laboratory seeks to uncover new mechanisms in diverse models of brain conditions. I am excited to join the vibrant research community at Baylor and the McNair Medical Institute. The supportive and collegial environment will provide excellent opportunities to develop my research program and foster collaborations,” Gao said.

Gao joins Baylor from Duke University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. Before that, he earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Tennessee Heath Science Center, Memphis, and a biomedical engineering degree from Zhejiang University in China. It was at the University of Tennessee where Gao shifted his work to neuroscience, focusing on the morphological and function dissections of GABAA receptor subtypes.

He published several research articles in highly regarded journals such as Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience and Biological Psychiatry. As a postdoc, he received the Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
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