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Introduction of the Zhang Laboratory

We are part of Department of Systems Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Motor Neuron Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

We are fascinated by the complexity of the mammalian nervous system and the underlying molecular mechanisms. While mammals have a similar number of genes compared to phenotypically simpler organisms (such as worm), one apparent feature of mammalian genes is their more complicated gene structures, providing opportunity of sophisticated regulation at the RNA level.

The vision of my lab is to infer RNA regulatory networks in the nervous system, as a way to understand the mammlian complexity manifested in evolutionary-developmental (evo-devo) processes and in several neuronal disorders. Specifically we are interested in obtaining fundamental understanding how neuronal cell types are specified during the normal development process, how this process can be reversed in certain pathologic contexts (such as brain tumors), and why they die abnormally in neurodegenerative diseases. My lab will have a mixed dry and wet lab setup (a.k.a. "humid" lab). We use different model systems and a combination of high-throughput data driven and hypothesis driven approaches.