Positions

Associate Professor
Huffington Center On Aging
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States

Education

PhD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Biochemistry
BS from Tsinghua University
Biological Science
Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute
Molecular Virology

Professional Interests

  • Neuroinflammation
  • Interferon Response
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Translational Science

Professional Statement

My current research focuses on neuroinflammation related to degenerative processes, esp. Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Neuroinflammation has been increasingly recognized as a major contributor to the pathogenesis of a wide range of neurological diseases.

Recently, we dissected AD-associated inflammatory responses and identified an intrinsic antiviral response at the core of microglia-mediated brain inflammation. The key cytokine involved is type I interferon, which pathogenically promotes synapse elimination via activating complement cascade. Our research for the first time discovered a prominent activation of such antiviral response in human AD brains, highlighting the clinical relevance of the novel findings. We are continuing studies to fully comprehend how interferon partakes in neuropathology during AD progression in various disease models.

Neurodegeneration is not a disease limited to the brain. Systemic changes, esp. immune system, profoundly influence the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease in many ways. Hence, we are examining the role played by peripheral immune cells and responses in protecting or exacerbating brain pathologies.

Aging represents the most important factor promoting neurodegeneration. We thus are investigating how different types of brain cells respond to the loss of protein homeostasis, a hallmark of aging. Such understanding will help decipher the underlying pathogenic processes in diseases.

My long term goal is to devise effective means to curb pathogenic neuroinflammatory responses and translate the basic research findings to human therapeutics.

Selected Publications

Funding

Interrogating the Interferon Pathway in Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
National Institute of Aging
Role of type I interferon in Alzheimer's Disease
Bright Focus Foundation