Qiangjun Zhou, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
Overview of Interests
The Zhou laboratory is investigating the molecular mechanisms of intercellular communications, including synaptic transmission and exosome-based cell-to-cell communication, which are essential for the development and function of the central nervous system. Nanoscale molecular assemblies and their spatial organization are crucial for the function of cells and organisms. However, defining molecular assembly, spatial organization, and dynamics of these nanoscale molecular machines is a daunting task, largely due to the technical challenges imposed by the cellular and molecular complexity. The laboratory uses an innovative, interdisciplinary approach that combines cutting-edge cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) techniques, biochemical methods, cell imaging and electrophysiological recording techniques to reveal molecular assembly and dynamics at the nanoscale in the cellular context, and which uniquely bridge structural biology with cellular and molecular physiology. These studies will design new molecular tools based on our structural information for in vivo manipulation of neurotransmitter release and generate novel animal disease models for synaptic dysfunction. Utilizing a unique angle, our studies will add critical knowledge to our new understanding of how multiple genes and environmental factors can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia.