Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics-Division of Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Department of Neuroscience
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute
Texas Children's Hospital
Houston, TX, US
McNair Scholar
McNair Medical Institute at The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation
Houston, TX
Associate Program Director, Basic Neuroscience Pathway
Department of Pediatrics
Child Neurology Residency Training Program
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US


Residency at Baylor College of Medicine
Pediatric Neurology
Internship at Baylor College of Medicine
MD from Baylor College of Medicine
PhD from Baylor College of Medicine
BS from University of Texas at Austin
Biochemistry, summa cum laude
BA from University of Texas at Austin
Plan II Honors in Liberal Arts, summa cum laude

Honors & Awards

2019 Health Care Heroes - Rising Star Award
2017 STAT Wunderkind Award
2017 CNS Outstanding Junior Member Award
2017 AAN Neurology Research Scholar
2017 CNCDP-K12 Scholar
2016 AAN Child Neurology Annual Meeting Scholarship
AAN Annual Meeting
Frontiers in Child Neurology
2016 AAN Women in Leadership Travel Award Scholarship
Breakthroughs in Neurology Conference
2015-2016 Chief Resident
2015-2016 Co-Chief Resident with Dr. Kim Houck for Pediatric Neurology Residency Training Program
2013 Journal of Child Neurology, Residents and Fellows section of the editorial board
2011 Top 10 Autism Research Findings of 2010
Chao et al. Nature, 2010
Drs. Benjamin and Margarie Mo Scholar
2009 Deborah K. Martin Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences
BRASS Scholar
Robert and Janice McNair Foundation MD/PhD Student Scholar
2010 BCM Alumni Association Outstanding Student Award
2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Outstanding Community BRASS Scholar
2014 Department of Pediatrics Award for Best Research Poster Presentation
2006 Trentin Scholar

Professional Interests

  • Pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders
  • Integrate mouse and fruit fly models with human genomics
  • Inhibitory neurons
  • HADD syndrome
  • New disease gene discovery

Professional Statement

Neurodevelopmental disorders encompass a broad constellation of conditions including intellectual disability, epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric conditions. One emerging theme in the field is that disrupted inhibitory neuronal development and function is found in association with many neurodevelopmental disorders. This would be consistent with the growing body of knowledge that inhibitory neurons are highly diverse and key for virtually all aspects of neurobiology from neural circuit development to modulating neuronal activity to information processing.

In the Chao Lab, we integrate cross-species approaches in humans to uncover the genetic etiologies of neurodevelopmental disorders, fruit flies to elucidate the molecular pathways, and mice to explore the cascade of events in the mammalian brain. A wide variety of approaches and techniques are employed in our laboratory including genetically engineered mouse and fruit fly models, structural and functional analyses with electrophysiology, confocal and super-resolution imaging, transcriptomics, molecular and cellular assays, and comprehensive behavioral profiling. Our goal is to determine the role of inhibitory dysfunction in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders by deciphering how genetic alterations perturb inhibition in the brain, impact neural development, and lead to abnormal neurologic output.

Selected Publications


McNair Scholar Award
Unrestricted funding from McNair Medical Institute at The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation
DP5 Early Independence Award - #1DP5OD026428-01
Grant funding from National Institutes of Health
NIH Director's High Risk High Reward Awards Program
Career Award for Medical Scientists
Grant funding from Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Elterman Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation Award
Grant funding from Child Neurology Foundation
Child Neurology Career Development Program - K12
Grant funding from Kennedy Krieger Institute
Neurology Research Training Scholarship
Grant funding from American Academy of Neurology