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Zilong Wen
Chair Professor


Dr. Wen received his medical degree at the First Military Medical University in 1986 and PhD from the Rockefeller University in 1997. After a short postdoctoral training with Professor Irving Weissman at Stanford University, he was appointed as a Principal Investigator at the Institute of Molecular Agrobiolgy and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore, until 2007. He then moved to Hong Kong and joined the Hong Kong University Science and Technology as an Associate Professor and was subsequently promoted to Professor. In 2022, Dr. Wen joined the Southern University of Science and Technology and is currently a Chair Professor of School of Life Science.

Research Interests:

Hematopoiesis or blood cell formation is a sophisticated biological process which gives rise to dozens of functionally divergent blood cells. Dysregulation of this process is repeatedly seen in many kinds of human diseases including cancers. Our laboratory is thus keen to understand the mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of the cellular components of the blood system and how their dysregulations incur diseases. Toward this end, we are utilizing zebrafish, a tiny tropical fish whose blood system shares many similarities to humans. A combination of photo-inducible lineage tracing, time-lapse imaging, and devising genetic strategies will be employed to investigate: (1) the formation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and HSC-niche interaction; (2) the fate determination and function of tissue-resident macrophages and dendritic cells; (3) the roles of immune cells in aging and tissue regeneration; and (4) the roles of immune cells in the formation and metastasis of melanoma. The ultimately goal is to uncover cellular and molecular principles that organize the formation, maintenance, and function of these cells under physiological and pathological states.

Professional Experience:

2022-present Southern University of Science and Technology, China

                      Chair Professor, School of Life Science

2012-2022 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

                  Professor, Division of Life Science

2007-2012 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

                  Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry,

2002-2007 Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore

                  Principal Investigator

1999-2002 Institute of Molecular Agrobiology, Singapore

                  Principal Investigator

1997-1999 Stanford University, California, USA

                  Postdoctoral Fellow with Irving L. Weissman

Educational Background:

1992-1997:  Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology

                   Rockefeller University, New York, USA; Mentor: James Darnell

1981-1986: Bachelor of Medicine 

                   First Military Medical University (Southern Medical University), Guangzhou, China

Honors & Awards:

2019: Croucher Senior Research Fellowships, Hong Kong

2011: School of Science Research Award, Hong Kong University of Science &

Technology, Hong Kong

1998: Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, USA

1997: American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, USA

Selected Publication:

1. Zhou QX#, Zhao CL#, Yang ZY, Qu R, Li YB, Fan YN, Tang JL, Wen ZL (2023) Cross-tissue single-cell transcriptome profiling reveals macrophage and dendritic cell heterogeneity in zebrafish Cell Reports (revision).

2. Zhao CL, Li YB, Tang JL, Zhou QX, Lin X, Wen ZL (2023) Metaphocytes are IL-22BP producing cells regulated by ETS transcription factor Spic and essential for zebrafish barrier immunity. Cell Reports (revision).

3. Yu T#, Kuang HY#, Huang Y, Wu XH, Wang JZ, Wen ZL (2023) Cell competition for neuron-derived trophic factor controls the turnover and lifespan of microglia. Science Advances (revision).

4. Lou L, Yu T, Dai YM, Zhao SZ, Feng SC, Xu J, Wen ZL (2022) Mafba and Mafbb regulate microglial colonization of zebrafish brain via controlling chemotaxis receptor expression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 119: e2203273119.

5. Zhao SZ, Feng SC, Tian Y, Wen ZL (2022) Hemogenic and aortic endothelium arise from a common hemogenic angioblast precursor and are specified by the Etv2 dosage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 119: e2119051119.

6. Wu ST, Nguyen TML, Pan HR, Hassan S, Dai YM, Xu J, Wen ZL (2020) Two phenotypically and functionally distinct microglial populations in adult zebrafish. Science Advances 6:eabd1160.

7. Lin X, Zhou QX, Lin GZ, Zhao CL, Wen ZL (2020) Endoderm-derived myeloid-like metaphocytes in zebrafish gill mediate soluble antigen-induced immunity. Cell Reports 33:108227.

8. Lin X, Zhou QX, Zhao CL, Lin GZ, Xu J, Wen ZL (2019) An ectoderm-derived myeloid-like cell population functions as antigen transporters for Langerhans cells in zebrafish epidermis. Developmental Cell 49:605-617.

9. Wu ST, Xue RT, Hassan SL, Nguyen TML, Wang TN, Pan HR, Liu QF, Xu J, Zhang WQ, Wen ZL (2018) Il34-Csf1r pathway regulates the migration and colonization of microglial precursors. Developmental Cell 46:552-563.

10. Yu T, Guo WL, Tian Y, Xu J, Chen JH, Li L, Wen ZL (2017) Distinct regulatory networks control the development of macrophages of different origins in zebrafish. Blood 129:509-519.

11. Tian Y, Xu J, Feng SC, He SC, Zhao SZ, Zhu L, Jin W, Dai YM, Luo LF, Qu JY, Wen ZL (2017) The first wave of T lymphopoiesis in zebrafish arises from aorta endothelium independent of hematopoietic stem cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine 214:3347-3360.

12. Xu J, Wang TN, Wu Y, Jin W, Wen ZL (2016) Microglia colonization of developing zebrafish midbrain is promoted by apoptotic neuron and lysophosphatidylcholine. Developmental Cell 38:214-222. 

Xu J, Zhu L, He SC, Wu Y, Jin W, Yu T, Qu JY, Wen ZL (2015) Temporal-spatial resolution fate mapping reveals distinct origins for embryonic and adult microglia in zebrafish. Developmental Cell 34:632-641.