PhD, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2004
BSc, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000
In the past, susceptibility of disease was believed to be determined solely by gene mutations, deletions, gene fusion, tandem duplications, or gene amplifications causing dysregulation of gene expression that underlies the genesis of disease. However, it has recently become clear that epigenetic disruption of gene expression plays an equally important role in the development of disease. My current research focuses on deciphering how environmental pollutants/allergen and dietary factors alter the epigenome via DNA de/methylation and induce chromatin remodeling, leading to complex diseases like asthma, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea and cancer. Our recent work has identified a previously unrecognized role for DNA hydroxymethylation in airway hyperresponsiveness and asthma.
Results from the epigenetic studies in laboratory can be further validated in populations. For example, many epidemiological studies showed the association between environmental exposure and complex diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, asthma and cancer. With a team of collaborators, I have extended my work to identify the relationship between the inter-individual epigenetic variations and disease risk. My lab has been participating in several human cohort studies which are currently funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Therefore, my long-term goal is to apply innovative and promising epigenetic approaches to understand the underlying mechanisms by which epigenetic changes may contribute to common diseases. Our findings may lead to the development of improved preventive measures and therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of chronic diseases. Also, translating our scientific findings into human may provide proper disease management and lifetime recommendations to the public.
Honors and Awards
2018-2020 Joint Research Fund Award for Overseas Chinese Scholars, National Natural Science Foundation of China
2015-2016 Thomas and Carol McCann Innovation Research Fund Award
2012-2013 Faculty Innovation Award, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
2008-2013 Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
2006-2008 Postdoctoral Trainee Award, Prostate Cancer Research, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, US Department of Defense