Dr. Jiaqian Wu is a Professor with Tenure in the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery and IMM Center for Neuroimmunology and Glial Biology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Dr. Wu earned her doctorate in molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where her research focused on novel mammalian gene discovery and the characterization of transcriptome complexity. Dr. Wu led the NIH Mammalian Gene Collection effort and cloned thousands of mammalian genes which are publicly available through GE Dharmacon now.  During her postdoctoral training at Yale University and Stanford University, Dr. Wu employed interdisciplinary approaches including molecular and cellular biology and genomics to study gene expression, transcription factor regulation, and regulatory networks of stem/progenitor cell self-renewal and differentiation. She was one of the first using RNA-Seq to characterize stem cell neural differentiation process. In her independent laboratory at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School at Houston, The Wu lab has carried out unprecedented transcriptome profiling for eight highly purified neural cell types from brain by RNA-Seq. The Wu lab identified a large number of novel lncRNAs, and functional and genetic experiments substantiated the role of lncRNA in oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) formation. One of the neurodegenerative diseases that Dr. Wu is focusing on is spinal cord injury (SCI). The Wu lab has already published RNA-Seq and single cell RNA-seq studies for acute and chronic SCI phases in mouse and rat contusive injury models.  The Wu lab provided unprecedented data source and a powerful analysis framework for functional investigations of coding and long non-coding RNAs in CNS cell types and SCI.  Dr. Wu’s work has been recognized with prestigious honors and awards, including the National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows, and the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Annual Meeting Travel Award, the National Institute of Health Pathway to Independence (PI) Award (K99/R00), R01s, R21s and the Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Investigator Award. A reviewer for NIH, New York State Department of Health-Spinal Cord Injury Research Board, MRC, ANR and various high impact journals. Dr. Wu has presented invited talks and lectures at national and international conferences, universities and institutions. She has developed a patent, authored two books, and wrote many articles that have appeared in Cell Reports, PNAS, the Journal of Neuroscience, Stem Cell Reports, Nature Neuroscience and Nature, among others.

Areas of Interest

Research Interests

Wu laboratory combines neuroscience, stem cell biology and systems-based approaches involving genomics, bioinformatics and functional assays to unravel gene transcription and regulatory mechanisms. One major focus of our group is investigating stem cell and glial progenitor cell differentiation and developing effective and safe treatment for spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases. We are studying gene expression and the regulation of transcription factors and regulatory RNAs using next-generation sequencing technologies including single cell RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq, and ATAC-Seq etc. combined with functional tests. These studies are crucial in understanding the molecular mechanism of stem cell neural differentiation and its clinical implications. Our goal is to identify and modulate key regulators as therapeutic targets to promote the differentiation of stem cell and glial progenitor cells into desired neural cell types, and to increase transplantation safety.

Research Projects

  • Investigate gene expression and regulatory mechanisms of neural stem/progenitor cell self-renewal and differentiation
  • Characterize molecular signatures and identify therapeutic targets for spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Pinpoint key transcription factors and regulatory RNAs, and modulate key regulators to steer the direction of stem/progenitor cell differentiation and improve efficiency
  • Network analysis of stem/progenitor cell differentiation and global network integration of multiple types of omic data