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Hsiao-Tuan Chao, MD, PhD

Contact Information

Phone - 832-826-0461
Fax - 832-825-0373
Email - hsiaotuan.chao@bcm.edu

McNair Scholar, McNair Medical Institute at the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine

Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital

Research

Research Focus: Transcriptional regulation of neural networks, inhibitory neurobiology in health and disease, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders (HADD syndrome, autism, and epilepsy)

Research Statement: Neurodevelopmental disorders encompass a broad constellation of conditions including intellectual disability, epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric conditions. These conditions are often co-morbid and share many overlapping clinical features, suggesting that despite etiologic differences there may be commonalities in mechanisms of disease. One emerging theme in the field is that disrupted inhibitory neuronal development and function is found in association with many neurodevelopmental disorders. This would be consistent with the growing body of knowledge that inhibitory neurons are highly diverse and key for virtually all aspects of neurobiology from neural circuit development to modulating neuronal activity to information processing. Disrupted inhibition perturbs the balance between excitatory and inhibitory signaling, resulting in aberrant neural circuit activity that is reflected by changes in cognition, emotion, and behavior. Therefore, elucidating the genetic etiologies of inhibitory neuronal development and function has great potential to advance our understanding of inhibitory neurobiology in health and disease. However, determining the genetic underpinnings is only the first step. The critical advances needed for translation of human genetic studies into clinical applications is to identify the consequences of genetic alterations at the molecular, cellular, neural network, and whole-organism levels. This detailed mechanistic dissection of neurodevelopmental disorders will bridge molecular function to disease pathogenesis, which is crucial for the development of effective targeted therapeutics.

In the Chao Lab, we integrate mechanistic studies of well-defined single gene neurodevelopmental disorders with cross-species approaches in humans to uncover the genetic etiologies, fruit flies to elucidate the molecular pathways, and mice to explore the cascade of events in the mammalian brain. A wide variety of approaches and techniques are employed in our laboratory including genetically engineered mouse and fruit fly models, structural and functional analyses with electrophysiology, confocal and super-resolution imaging, transcriptomics, molecular and cellular assays, and comprehensive behavioral profiling. Our goal is to determine the role of inhibitory dysfunction in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders by deciphering how genetic alterations perturb inhibition in the brain, impact neural development, and lead to abnormal neurologic output.

Publications

Chao HT*, Davids M*, Burke E, Pappas JG, Rosenfeld JA, McCarty A, Davis T, Wolfe L, Toro C, Tifft C, Xia F, Johnson TK, Warr CG, Members of the UDN, Yamamoto S, Adams D, Markello TC, Gahl WA, Bellen HJ, Wangler MF, Malicdan MCV. 2017 (Epub 2016). A syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder caused by de novo variants in EBF3. *equal contribution. American Journal of Human Genetics. 100:128-137. PMID 28017372.

View a complete list of publications by Hsiao-Tuan Chao, MD PhD

Awards

McNair Faculty Scholar, McNair Medical Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, 2019

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists, 2018

“The Short Read”, profiled in Frontline Genomics, 2018

STAT News Wunderkind Award, STAT News, 2017

Child Neurology Society Outstanding Junior Member Award, 2017

Child Neurology Career Development Program Scholar, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 2017

AAN Neurology Research Training Scholar, American Academy of Neurology, 2017

AAN Child Neurology Annual Meeting Scholarship, American Academy of Neurology, 2016

Chief Resident, Pediatric Neurology Residency, Baylor College of Medicine, 2015-2016

Leadership for Women Travel Award, Breakthroughs in Neurology Conference, American Academy of Neurology, 2015

Department of Pediatrics Award for Best Research Poster Presentation, Baylor College of Medicine, 2014

Best Performance in Medical School Award, Medical Scientist Training Program, Baylor College of Medicine, 2012

Drs. Benjamin and Margarie Mo Scholar, Chinese American Doctors Association of Houston, 2012

Top 10 Autism Research Findings of 2010, Autism Speaks, 2011

Best Publication of 2010 Award, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, 2011

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Outstanding Community BRASS Scholar, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010

Commencement speaker, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010

BCM Alumni Association Outstanding Student Award, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010

Deborah K. Martin Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, 2009

Best Oral Presentation of 31st Annual Scientific Symposium, MSTP, Baylor College of Medicine, 2008

Best Publication Award, Medical Scientist Training Program, Baylor College of Medicine, 2007

Trentin Scholar, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, 2006

Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists (BRASS) Scholar, Baylor College of Medicine, 2004-2010

McNair Student Scholar, Medical Scientist Training Program, Baylor College of Medicine, 2002-2012

Alumni Scholarship, Baylor College of Medicine, 2002

Special Honors in Plan II Honors, University of Texas at Austin, 2002

Distinguished College Scholar, University of Texas at Austin, 2001-2002

Ira Iscoe Endowed Presidential Scholarship, Plan II Honors Program, University of Texas at Austin, 2001

Deans’ Scholars Honors Program, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 2000-2002

Banks Scholarship in Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin, 2000

Schumacher Memorial Scholarship, Plan II Honors Program, University of Texas at Austin, 2000

Half-Century Longhorns Scholarship, Ex-Students’ Association, University of Texas at Austin, 1999

Piper Scholar, Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, 1999-2002