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Zhonghua Gao, PhD

Zhonghua Gao, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Scientific Program:Next-Generation Therapies

Research Interests

During mammalian development, hundreds of cell types derived from a single zygote are maintained throughout cell cycles. Deregulation of cell identity is often associated with pathogenesis such as cancer. Despite identical genetic information, cells with distinct identity are controlled by the differential epigenetic landscape. Dr. Zhonghua Gao's research interest is to understand how cell identity is established and maintained via epigenetic mechanisms, particularly how Polycomb group complexes are involved in regulating chromatin structure and gene transcription.

Dr. Gao's lab has established an in vitro neuronal differentiation model using both mouse and human embryonic stem cells. These efforts led to an identification and characterization of novel essential component for a sub-type of PRC1 complex.

The lab is currently continuing to investigate how this regulation controls cell fate determination as well as its involvement in diseases such as cancer and autism.

Dr. Gao is part of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology program at Penn State College of Medicine.


  • Proteins
  • Ubiquitin
  • Casein Kinase I
  • Neoplasms
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Chromatin
  • Peptides
  • Epigenomics
  • Genes
  • Gene Expression
  • Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

Recent Publications


Geng, Z, Wang, Q, Miao, W, Wolf, T, Chavez, J, Giddings, E, Hobbs, R, DeGraff, DJ, Wang, Y, Stafford, J & Gao, Z 2023, 'AUTS2 Controls Neuronal Lineage Choice Through a Novel PRC1-Independent Complex and BMP Inhibition', Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 531-549.


Yu, H, Gao, R, Chen, S, Liu, X, Wang, Q, Cai, W, Vemula, S, Fahey, AC, Henley, D, Kobayashi, M, Liu, SZ, Qian, Z, Kapur, R, Broxmeyer, HE, Gao, Z, Xi, R & Liu, Y 2021, 'Bmi1 Regulates Wnt Signaling in Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells', Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 2304-2313.


Chen, S, Wang, Q, Yu, H, Capitano, ML, Vemula, S, Nabinger, SC, Gao, R, Yao, C, Kobayashi, M, Geng, Z, Fahey, A, Henley, D, Liu, SZ, Barajas, S, Cai, W, Wolf, ER, Ramdas, B, Cai, Z, Gao, H, Luo, N, Sun, Y, Wong, TN, Link, DC, Liu, Y, Boswell, HS, Mayo, LD, Huang, G, Kapur, R, Yoder, MC, Broxmeyer, HE, Gao, Z & Liu, Y 2020, 'Author Correction: Mutant p53 drives clonal hematopoiesis through modulating epigenetic pathway (Nature Communications, (2019), 10, 1, (5649), 10.1038/s41467-019-13542-2)', Nature communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 3856.
Hanafiah, A, Geng, Z, Wang, Q & Gao, Z 2020, 'Differentiation and characterization of neural progenitors and neurons from mouse embryonic stem cells', Journal of Visualized Experiments, vol. 2020, no. 159, e61446.
Geng, Z & Gao, Z 2020, 'Mammalian prc1 complexes: Compositional complexity and diverse molecular mechanisms', International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 21, no. 22, 8594, pp. 1-18.