• Rui Zhao is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Dr. Zhao received his B.S. degree from Peking University in China (1998) and Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa (2004). He received his postdoctoral training at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, and joined the UAB faculty in 2012.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2020 Reprogramming of Pluripotency-Specific microRNA Signatures Is Not Essential to Generate Inducible Pluripotent Stem CellsCellular Reprogramming.  22:1-2. 2020
    2019 Characterization of iPSCs derived from low grade gliomas revealed early regional chromosomal amplifications during gliomagenesisJournal of Neuro-Oncology.  141:289-301. 2019
    2017 Biological Significance of the Suppression of Oxidative Phosphorylation in Induced Pluripotent Stem CellsCell Reports.  21:2058-2065. 2017
    2008 From fibroblasts to iPS cells: Induced pluripotency by defined factorsJournal of Cellular Biochemistry.  105:949-955. 2008
    2005 Phenotypic switching in Candida glabrata accompanied by changes in expression of genes with deduced functions in copper detoxification and stress.Eukaryotic Cell.  4:1434-1445. 2005
    2005 Unique aspects of gene expression during Candida albicans mating and possible G(1) dependency.Eukaryotic Cell.  4:1175-1190. 2005
    2005 Increased virulence and competitive advantage of a/alpha over a/a or alpha/alpha offspring conserves the mating system of Candida albicans.Genetics: a periodical record of investigations bearing on heredity and variation.  169:1883-1890. 2005
    2003 Alpha-pheromone-induced "shmooing" and gene regulation require white-opaque switching during Candida albicans mating.Eukaryotic Cell.  2:847-855. 2003
    2003 Relationship between switching and mating in Candida albicans.Eukaryotic Cell.  2:390-397. 2003
    2003 Cell biology of mating in Candida albicans.Eukaryotic Cell.  2:49-61. 2003
    2002 Roles of TUP1 in switching, phase maintenance, and phase-specific gene expression in Candida albicans.Eukaryotic Cell.  1:353-365. 2002

    Research Overview

  • The overall goal of the Zhao laboratory is to model and treat human genetic diseases using stem cells. Stem cells have the capacity to generate identical daughter stem cells (self-renewal) and to differentiate into terminally differentiated cell types (pluripotency or multipotency), therefore serving as a powerful in vitro tool to study normal and diseased human embryo development and a potential donor tissue source for cell therapy. The current research of the Zhao Laboratory is focusing on the following areas:

    1.The basic biology of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs)
    We are interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms that regulate self-renewal and differentiation of human and mouse and PSCs.This knowledge is critical to design novel methods to generate disease-relevant cell types for disease modeling and stem cell therapy. We are interested in the roles of microRNAs, the small non-coding RNAs critical for post-transcriptional regulation, in self-renewal, lineage differentiation, and somatic cell reprogramming of human and mouse PSCs.

    2. Model human congenital diseases using pluripotent stem cells
    The defects of congenital diseases usually occur during human embryo development, which is inaccessible for experimentation. Although animal models have played indispensable roles in understanding human diseases, they often fail to mimic features unique to humans. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) generated from patient cells (e.g., skin fibroblasts, peripheral blood), which carry all genetic abnormalities of the disease, serve as a novel in vitro model to recapitulate the diseased embryo development. Currently, we are modeling monogenic congenital diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) and diseases with chromosomal fragment deletions such as DiGeorge Syndrome (DGS). We also evaluate the efficacy of potential gene therapy methods using hiPSC disease models.

    3. Model human cancer using pluripotent stem cells
    Brain tumors (gliomas) are incurable and are among the most fatal tumors in adults. We have established hiPSCs from primary glioma cells. We are in the process of establishing an in vitro model of gliomagenesis using the glioma cell-derived hiPSCs. We expect that this model will facilitate the identification of novel drug targets and the development of new therapies to treat gliomas.
  • Teaching Overview

  • Course director or co-director of
    GBS-708 Genetics
    GBSC-710 Advanced Chromatin Biology
    GBSC-735 Discoveries in Molecular Biology

    Lecturer of
    GBS-723 Model Systems for Genetic Analyses
    GBSC-718 Epigenetics
  • Education And Training

  • Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School/Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Biology and Embryology, University of Iowa 2004
  • Bachelor of Science or Mathematics in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Peking University 1998
  • Full Name

  • Rui Zhao