Boxun Zhao, PhD
Boxun joined the lab in August 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow. He obtained his PhD in Genetics in 2017 from Peking Union Medical College and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. During his doctoral research in Liping Wei’s laboratory at the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS) and Peking University, he studied somatic transposable element (TE) insertions in the human brain and neurological disorders. He developed a novel experimental protocol and established a bioinformatics pipeline to profile genome-wide TE insertions from bulk tissue samples, and his method is sufficiently sensitive to detect low-clonal TE insertions, i.e., ones present in a small number of cells. He has also participated in other projects investigating somatic point mutations in autism and healthy human genomes, and validating large structural variations that are undetectable by typical short-read sequencing platforms. His strong background in human transposon elements and his talents in experimental and computational work give him a solid foundation to pursue his long-term goal of resolving the importance and functional impact of TE insertions in human diseases. Soon after Boxun joined the Lee lab, he was awarded a Pilot Project Award by the Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research!