Shiaoching Gong, Ph.D.Research Associate Professor
Shiaoching Gong is the director of the Molecular Biology Core of the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas (GENSAT) project. In collaboration with Nathaniel Heintz, Dr. Gong has created a novel “two-plasmid” approach for the one-step modification of large-insert genomic clones referred to as bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs). Using this method, Gong and colleagues have successfully engineered more than 2,000 BACs and generated over 1,000 BAC transgenic mice expressing EGFP, EGFP-ribosomal L10a fusion protein, Cre recombinase, Cre-ERT2 recombinase, Flpe recombinase and disease genes.
The transgenic animals made by the GENSAT project are available to the scientific community, and anatomical expression maps of the nervous system of these mice are available to the public at www.gensat.org.
In order to further apply the BAC system for high throughput functional genomic studies, Dr. Gong recently developed a highly efficient system to generate BAC-mediated gene targeting constructs for generating conditional knockout and knockin alleles in embryonic stem cells. She is also interested in applying mouse molecular genetics to study the mechanisms of motor neuron diseases, especially amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, to help identify potential therapeutics. To this end, Dr. Gong is using the BAC engineering system to generate mutant mice models to study the molecular defects that lead to neurological disorders. Transgenic animals derived from such projects can be closely monitored for the presence of any clinical and/or pathologic feature observed in human patients and to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the selective cell loss or dysfunction in these disorders. The availability of such animal models also allows for in vivo study of various therapeutic strategies and permits preclinical drug screening. Dr. Gong’s long-term research goal is to slow, stop or prevent motor neurodegenerative diseases.