Positions

Associate Professor
Huffington Center On Aging
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Faculty Senator
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
Co-Director
Molecular and Human Genetics Graduate Program
Baylor College of Medicine
Robert C. Fyfe Endowed Chair on Aging
Baylor College of Medicine

Education

BS from Peking University
PhD from University Of Rochester
Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School

Honors & Awards

Early Career Life Scientist Award of the American Society for Cell Biology
Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine
Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging
NIH Director’s Pioneer Award
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholars Award
Marc Dresden Excellence in Graduate Education Award
Gibco Emerging Leader Prizes of the American Society for Cell Biology
Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award

Professional Interests

  • Systemic studies of endocrine and metabolic signaling in promoting healthy aging

Professional Statement

Our research goals are to advance our knowledge on the fundamental mechanisms of aging, and also provide promising pharmaceutical targets to improve healthy aging. Biology of aging is composed of complex intrinsic deterioration on vital organs. Adipose tissue and the reproductive system are essential endocrine units, releasing adipokines, lipokines and steroid hormones to coordinate organism physiology. During aging, degenerative changes in these key endocrine organs are associated with various age-related diseases such as type II diabetes, central obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders.

In Caenorhabditis elegans, we have discovered that germline stem cell proliferation exerts active effects on fat metabolism by modulating specific lipases. The lipase-mediated lipolysis reveals novel mechanisms to enhance somatic maintenance and promote longevity. Via a full genome RNA interference (RNAi) screen, we have identified novel factors that modulate age-associated reproductive senescence, many of which are key regulators of stress responses, fat metabolism and longevity. These results have revealed the endocrine crosstalk between germline stem cells and fat storage tissue, the novel role of lipid metabolism in the regulation of longevity, and the molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive aging.

Our current research interests are to characterize age-associated changes in endocrine organs, identify their genetic causes and investigate their impacts on healthspan and lifespan, with focuses on lipid metabolism, germline stem cell homeostasis and neuroendocrine regulation.

Ongoing projects include: (1) investigating the roles of lipid metabolism in the regulation of longevity, (2) studying the systemic control of reproductive homeostasis during aging, (3) analyzing lipid dynamics during aging using quantitative label-free imaging, and (4) identifying lipokines that promote longevity and retard metabolic dysfunction and reproductive senescence. These studies utilize lipidomics, proteomics, biochemical, microfluidic and label-free biochemical imaging techniques together with powerful worm genetic approaches.

Selected Publications

Memberships

American Society for Cell Biology
Genetics Society of America
Society for Developmental Biology
American Aging Association