Dr Xiong received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Chicago in 2010. Under the supervision of Prof. Ilaria Rebay, she studied how multiple signaling pathways interact in space and time to ensure the accurate developmental program of the Drosophila compound eye. In 2011, she joined the laboratory of Prof. Constance Cepko at Harvard Medical School, where she studied the disease mechanisms of inherited blindness and developed gene therapies to prolong vision in mouse models. In August 2015, she joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at City University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor.
- Photoreceptor cells
- Retinal degeneration diseases
- Gene therapy
- Regenerative medicine
Vision is by far the most important sense of human beings. Our ability to see the world around us is empowered by photoreceptor cells, the specialized light-sensing neurons in the retina. Despite their essential function, photoreceptors are particularly vulnerable to intrinsic and environmental challenges and undergo cell death in many retinal degeneration diseases, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa (a rare and devastating inherited eye disorder) and Age-related Macular Degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in elderly people). Our research goal is to unveil the molecular mechanisms that can facilitate the rescue, replacement, or regeneration of the photoreceptor neurons in the face of degeneration. We hope to translate our work in animal models into the development of novel gene therapy and regenerative medicine for retinal degeneration patients.
My current research interests include:
- To understand the mechanisms underlying photoreceptor degeneration in mouse models of eye diseases through a combination of molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches.
- To rescue photoreceptors from degeneration by overexpressing candidate anti-stress genes via adeno-associated virus vector (AAV).
- To explore the potential of other retinal cell types to regenerate photoreceptors in mouse retinas.
- To develop new animal models for retinal degeneration diseases, such as glaucoma.