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ZENG Fanyi

ZENG Fanyi


Structural, cell and molecular biology &

Medical and health sciences

Shanghai Jiao Tong University


Professor Fanyi Zeng was born in 1968. She received her B.A. in University of California San Diego, CA, USA in 1991. In 2005, she got her Ph.D in University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA.

Professor Zeng has led a research team that has made substantial and long-lasting contributions to the developmental biology field, which has resulted in paradigm shifts in embryo development and stem cell research, which will have profound impact on the study and treatment of human diseases.

Professor Zeng and her colleagues have a long tradition in research excellence. She established the first human/goat chimera models for the study of in vive stem cell biology. Her research team transplanted human hematopoietic stem cells into goats via in utero transplantation, and demonstrated the feasibility of using this model to study stem cell engraftment, expansion, differentiation, and plasticity, which is critical for more fully exploiting the use of stem cells in disease treatment. This work resulted in several publications in prestigious high-impact journals, including the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of United States (PNAS), and was named one of the top ten basic science research advancements of 2006 by China Ministry of Science and Technology.

Professor Zeng was one of the first researchers to apply systems biology approaches, such as high- throughput microarray analysis, to study early embryonic development, uncovering many critical principles governing mammalian preimplantation. Professor Zeng established a linear amplification method that made possible the molecular analysis of very early stage embryos, profiling more than 40,000 genes at major developmental stages and elucidating important mechanisms of gene regulation, as well as signal pathways critical to mammalian embryo development. The work was published in top journals in the field such as Developmental Biology, Development and Biology of Reproduction and is frequently referenced by researchers in the field.      

Professor Zeng has investigated the mechanisms of nuclear-cytoplasm interaction in early embryos, including cloned embryos, and was one of the inventors of Autologous Nuclear Transfer Technology, which greatly improves the efficiency of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or animal cloning). During this process, Professor Zeng elucidated the regulation of cloned embryo development by mitochondrial haplotypes, and also helped increase the success rate of allogenous cloning by homologous nuclear transfer. This work resulted in series publications, which has important implications in the field of animal reproductive cloning.     

Most recently, Professor Zeng and her collaborators at the Chinese Academy of Sciences produced the first live-born, fertile mice (“Tiny") from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, using tetraploid complementation, the gold standard for testing pluripotency, demonstrating that iPS cells have similar pluripotency as ES ceils. This landmark work will impact societies around the world in two major areas: 1) It validates the potential for using patient-specific stem cells to treat intractable diseases, and thus will greatly impact the future of regenerative medicine. 2) Secondly, freeing the scientific community from a reliance on human embryonic stem cells avoids the negative societal connotations of working with deceased embryonic material, which is currently restricted in most Western cultures. After the publication of the breakthrough manuscript in Nature, this work was named one of the top ten medical breakthroughs by TIME magazine, as well as one of the top ten basic science research advancements of 2009 by the China Ministry of Science and Technology.     

Not limited to only fundamental biological research, Professor Zeng and her research team have also made major contributions in the area of translational medicine, exploring direct phenotypic conversion through transcriptome transfer, a novel technique called TIPeR. This phenotype transfer from one cell type to another occurs without conversion to the early stem cell stage, and will have a huge impact in regenerative medicine and for future personalized medicine. Professor Zeng identified key molecular defects in several chronic and debilitating genetic diseases, which led to the development of a new type of high-throughput genetic screen, combining multi-ligase-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) with microarray technology. This approach has successfully identified more than 250 cases of progressive muscular dystrophy (DMD), a severe disease that previously was extremely difficult to diagnose. These important work have been published in top journals such as PNAS and Human Mutation.

In summary, in a short and progressively impressive research career, Professor Zeng, as a young woman scientist working and living in China, has made many important discoveries in the field of embryo development and stem cell biology, with important and long-term implications in regenerative medicine and reproductive biology. Her research has been noted internationally as significant achievements in science and medicine, and exemplifies Professor Zeng's significant contributions and major potential for future discoveries.

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