Assistant Research Professor of Neurology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
Weill Cornell Medical College
During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Zhao conducted research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. She investigated the roles of glutamate-mediated cytotoxicity, immune-mediated injury, and oxidative stress in motor neuron death. She also investigated the potential for a new phospholipid agent, VP025, to inhibit immune activation and protect motor neurons from injury. After completing her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Zhao joined the Methodist Hospital Research Institute as a scientist in the Department of Neurology.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Zhao is interested in the underlying mechanisms of neuroinflammation on motor neuron death and relevant therapeutic targets. Current research efforts aim to understand the roles of microglia/monocytes and T-cells on immune-mediated injury and repair in ALS. Dr. Zhao is investigating the neuroprotective potential of regulatory immune cells as new therapeutic options for ALS. Gene mutations on SOD1, TDP-43, and C9ORF72 have been linked to ALS. Dr. Zhao is also interested in the pathology of various mutant proteins as well as abnormal peptides, and how they affect interactions among motor neurons, microglia, and T-cells in ALS.