Interrogate the Functions of FMRP in Brain Development Using Stem Cells

FRAXA Seminar Series

This virtual seminar series addresses a wide range of current topics in Fragile X research. Hosted by FRAXA and organized by Michael Tranfaglia, MD and Patricia Cogram, PhD, sessions feature outstanding speakers from universities and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. 

Presentation Summary

During the past 15 years, Dr. Xinyu Zhao’s group has used both mouse and human neural stem cells to interrogate the functions of FMRP in brain development. They have discovered that a lack of FMRP leads to altered neural stem cell self-renewal, neural differentiation, and neuronal maturation. They have shown that FMRP-deficiency results in mitochondrial deficits. Using a combination of CRISPR gene editing, genome-wide target identification transcriptomics, cellular imaging, and behavioral techniques, they have identified novel molecular and signaling pathways underlying these deficits in both mouse and human models and discovered potential treatment targets for Fragile X syndrome.

About the Speaker

Xinyu Zhao, PhD

Jenni and Kyle Professor
Waisman Center and Department of Neuroscience
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Dr. Xinyu Zhao graduated from Peking (Beijing) University with a BS degree in Biology and then earned her PhD degree in Pharmacology from the University of Washington (Seattle).  She then obtained postdoctoral training from Dr. Fred Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, California).  Dr. Zhao started her own independent research at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 2003 and then moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. She is currently a Jeni and Kyle Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and an investigator of the Waisman Center. Dr. Zhao’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate brain development with the goal of developing novel treatment strategies for neurodevelopmental disorders.