Fei Zhao, PhD

Position title: Assistant Professor, Comparative Biosciences

Email: fei.zhao@wisc.edu

Website: Website

Phone: 608-890-2610

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Disorder of Sexual Development
Aligned Research Focus:
Cell Fate Decisions and Cell Differentiation



Research Description:

How cell fate decisions are regulated is a fundamental and important question in stem cell and regenerative medicine. Mis-regulation of cell fates can cause a broad range of diseases. This concept of cellular origins of diseases also applies to reproductive tract differentiation, where cellular fate alterations can lead to congenital anomalies and disorders of sexual development. Using the reproductive tract organ as a model, our lab aims to understand how cell fate decisions are coordinated during sexual differentiation. We are currently studying the embryonic mesenchyme, which governs the fate and differentiation of epithelial progenitor cells. Our research will provide fundamental knowledge for the development of better strategies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of related disorders of sexual development due to alterations in cell fate decisions.

Selected References: 

1. Jia S, Zhao F. Ex vivo development of the entire mouse fetal reproductive tract by using microdissection and membrane-based organ culture techniques. Differentiation. 2022;123:42-9. Epub 2022/01/15. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2022.01.001. PubMed PMID: 35030420.
2. Zhao F, Grimm SA, Yao HH. Molecular Actions Underlying Wolffian Duct Regression in Sexual Differentiation of Murine Reproductive Tracts. Sex Dev. 2020;14(1-6):51-9. Epub 2021/03/09. doi: 10.1159/000513878. PubMed PMID: 33684916; PMCID: PMC8328876.
3. Zhao F, Yao HH. A tale of two tracts: history, current advances, and future directions of research on sexual differentiation of reproductive tracts. Biol Reprod. 2019;101(3):602-16. Epub 2019/05/07. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioz079. PubMed PMID: 31058957; PMCID: PMC679105
4. Zhao F, Franco HL, Rodriguez KF, Brown PR, Tsai MJ, Tsai SY, Yao HH. Elimination of the male reproductive tract in the female embryo is promoted by COUP-TFII in mice. Science. 2017;357(6352):717-20. Epub 2017/08/19. doi: 10.1126/science.aai9136. PubMed PMID: 28818950; PMCID: PMC5713893.
5. Zhao F, Zhou J, Li R, Dudley EA, Ye X. Novel function of LHFPL2 in female and male distal reproductive tract development. Sci Rep. 2016;6:23037. Epub 2016/03/12. doi: 10.1038/srep23037. PubMed PMID: 26964900; PMCID: PMC4786858.