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Spotlight: Zhaolan (Joe) Zhou, PhD


In honor of our 10th anniversary, we are presenting this spotlight on Joe Zhou, PhD, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Where do you work?

University of Pennsylvania

Tell us about your research. (Assume we know nothing!)

I am interested in understanding the pathophysiology of genetic disorders that afflict brain function, such as CDKL5 deficiency disorder and Rett syndrome with known genetic causes, autism with complex genetics, and major depressive disorder with environmental insults. I use the mouse as a model organism to mimic the genetic defect and environmental influence, aim to recapitulate clinical-relevant symptoms in mice, and investigate what the genes do and how specific symptoms manifest when the genes-of-interest go awry.

What interests you most about your area of study?

Using the cutting-edge genetic and genomic tools, I find it fascinating that we can potentially uncover the cellular origins of disease-related problems, determine the reversibility or potential of a cure for numerous genetic disorders, and share our findings with the community.

When was the moment you first fell in love with science?

I used to dream about studying physics when I grew up, but was admitted to a major in biology in college through pure serendipity. I thought I would regret it, but found I was fascinated by the capacity and potential of bioengineering, such as genetically in mice.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I spend time in my garden, and always enjoy volleyball games.