Xinyu Zhao, PHD

Position title: Professor, Neuroscience / Waisman Center


Website: Lab Website

Phone: 608-890-0173

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Brain, Neurodevelopmental disorders, Autism, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome
Aligned Research Focus:
human iPSCs, neurons, and organoids for disease modeling, gene targeting/editing, single cell multi-omics, functional maturation of mammalian neurons.
Xinyu Zhao headshot


Lab positions are available for graduate students and postdoctoral students. Please contact Dr. Zhao to learn more.

Research Interests: Transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms regulating stem cells and brain development.

News Releases:
Research Description:

The research in our laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate  brain development with the goal of applying this knowledge in the treatment of brain disorders.

We use diverse model  systems including human pluripotent stem cells (e.g. iPSCs), brain organoids, transgenic mice, and ex vivo brain slice culture in our research. We employ a wide range of state-of-art methods, including single cell genetic, genomic, proteomic, imaging, and behavioral methods to interrogate the roles of genes, epigenetic regulators, and RNAs in brain development and their implications in human neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Fragile X syndrome, Autism, and Rett Syndrome.

Selected References:
  • Sandoval SO, Cappuccio G, Kruth K, Osenberg , Khalil S, Mendez-Albelo NM, Padmanabhan K, Wang D, Niciu MJ, Bhattacharyya A, Stein JL, Sousa AMM, Waxman E, Buttermore ED, Whye D, Sirois CL, Cross-IDDRC Human Stem Cell Consortium, Williams A, Maletic-Savatic M, Zhao X, Rigor and reproducibility in human brain organoid research: where we are and where need to go. Stem Cell Reports 2024 (in press)
  • Shen M*, Sirois CL*, Guo Y*, Li M*, (*equal contribution), Dong Q, Mendez-Albelo NM, Gao Y, Khullar S, Kissel L, Sandoval SO, Wolkoff N, Huang SX, Xu Z, Bryan JE, Contractor A, Korabelnikov T, Glass IA, Doherty D, Birth Defects Research Laboratory, Levine JE, Sousa AMM, Chang Q, Bhattacharyya A, Wang D, Werling DM, and Zhao X. Species-specific FMRP regulation of RACK1 is critical for prenatal cortical development. Neuron 2023. News release.
  • Guo Y, Shen M, Dong Q, Mendez-Albelo NM, Le J, Li M, Huang SX, Jarzembowski ED, Schoeller KA, Stockton ME, Sirois CL, Horner VL, Sousa AMM, Gao Y, Birth Defects Research Laboratory, Levine JE, Wang D, Chang Q, Zhao, X. “Elevated levels of FMRP-target MAP1B impair human and mouse neuronal development and mouse social behaviors via autophagy pathway” Nature Communications June 26 2023 (see news release)
  • Richter J and  Zhao X: The molecular biology of FMRP: new insights into fragile X syndrome. Nature Review Neuroscience 2021 Feb 19.  PMID: 33608673; doi: 10.1038/s41583-021-00432-0. ( link)
  • Shen M, Guo Y, Dong Q, Gao, Y, Stockton ME, Li M, Kannan S, Korabelnikov T, Schoeller, AK, Sioris CL, Zhou C, Le J, Chang C,  Sun, Q-Q, Wang D, and Zhao X. FXR1 regulation of parvalbumin interneurons in the prefrontal cortex is critical for schizophrenia-like behaviors. Mol Psychiatry 2021 Apr 16. doi: 10.1038/s41380-021-01096-z. PMID: 33863995
  • Gao Y, Shen M, Dong Q, Kannan S, Hoang J, Eisinger BE, Javadi S, Chang Q, Wang D, and Zhao X. RGS6 mediates effects of voluntary running on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. 2020. Cell Reports 2020 Aug 4 2020; DOI: see news release
  • Li M, Shin J ,Risgaard RD, Parries MJ, Wang J, Chasman DA, Liu S, Roy S, Bhattacharyya A, and Zhao X. Identification of FMRP regulated molecular networks in human neurodevelopment. Genome Research 2020 Mar 16. doi: 10.1101/gr.251405.119. see a news release on this paper.
  • Shen M, Wang F, Li M, Sah N., Stockton ME, Tidei JJ, Gao Y, Korabelnikov T, Kannan S, Vevea JD, Chapman ER, Bhattacharyya A, and Zhao X.  Reduced mitochondrial fusion and Huntingtin levels contribute to impaired dendritic maturation and behavioral deficits in Fmr1 mutant mice.  Nature Neuroscience  (2019)   Link to the article (here): News about our article (here) and (here)   Faculty 1000 rated “Exceptional”
  • Li Y, Stockton ME, Bhuiyan I, Eisinger BE, Yu Gao Y, Bhattacharyya A, and Zhao X. MDM2 Inhibition rescues neurogenic and cognitive deficits in fragile X mice Science Translational Medicine April 27 2016. (see news release April 27, 2016)
  • Guo W, Zhang L , Christopher DM, Teng Z, Fausett SR, Klingensmith K, Jin P, and Zhao X. RNA-binding Protein FXR2 Regulates Proliferation and Differentiation of Adult Hippocampal Neural Stem Cells by Reducing Noggin Expression Neuron 2011. 70 (5): 924-938
  • Guo W, Allan AM, Zong R, Zhang L, Johnson EB, Schaller EG, Murthy A, Goggin SL, Eisch AJ, Oostra BA, Nelson DL, Jin P, and Zhao X. Selective deletion of FMRP in adult neural stem cells disrupts hippocampal neurogenesis and learning Nature Medicine 17(5):559-65. PMID: 21516088. (Cover story. Featured by Faculty1000 as top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine.).
  • Liu C, Teng Z, Santistevan NJ, Szulwach KE, Guo W, Jin P, and Zhao X. (2010) Epigenetic regulation of miR-184 by Mbd1 governs neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation Cell Stem Cell 6(5):433-44. PMID: 20452318.