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Dr. Chun-Li Zhang received his Ph.D. in Genetics and Development from UT Southwestern, where he studied under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Olson on transcriptional control of muscle development and heart disease. Upon graduation in 2003, he conducted postdoctoral research as a HHMI Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation in Dr. Ronald Evans’ laboratory at the Salk Institute, California. In collaboration with Dr. Fred Gage at the Salk, Dr. Zhang worked on adult neural stem cells and neurogenesis. He joined the faculty as Assistant Professor in 2008 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2014 and Professor in 2018.

The major focus of his laboratory is on molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling adult neural stem cells, neurogenesis, regeneration of the nervous system, and cellular reprogramming for disease modeling and drug identification. Their discoveries were extensively reported by the news media, such as reprogramming in the adult brain (The Scientist Magazine, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, etc.), DLX2's potential to mend the brain (The Scientist), astrocyte reprogramming in the adult spinal cord (The Scientist Magazine, Neurology Today, Medical Daily, Breibart News Network, The Daily Texan, etc.), reprogramming NG2 glia for regeneration and recovery after spinal cord injury (Fiercebiotech, Eurekalert, etc.), modeling human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with adult-converted spinal motor neurons (MDLinx, Alzforum, The ALS Forum, Science Mission, ALS News Today, etc.), new findings on traumatic brain injury (Science Daily, News Medical, MD Magazine, etc.), and in vivo reprogramming of mature neurons (Discover Magazine, Science Magazine, Fierce Biotech, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Science Daily, EurekAlert, etc.). Their work on cell fate reprogramming in vivo was recognized as one of 2014's Big Advances in Science by The Scientist Magazine.


Graduate School
Wuhan University , Molecular & Cell Biology
Graduate School
UT Southwestern Medical Center (2002), Genetics

Research Interest

  • Genetic and epigenetic regulation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis
  • Human neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neural regeneration and reprogramming
  • Traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications


Featured Books Legend Featured Books

Induced Neurogenesis as a Mechanism for Adult Central Nervous System Regeneration. In Neural Stem Cells in Health and Disease

Smith DK, Niu W, Zhang CL (2015). Hackensack, NJ, World Scientific

Honors & Awards

  • L&N Distinguished Lecturer, University of Virginia School of Medicine
  • NIH/CNNT Charter Member
  • GSO Keynote speaker, Texas A&M University
  • 2014's Big Advances in Science by The Scientist Magazine
  • The Ellison Medical Foundation: New Scholar in Aging
  • The Whitehall Foundation: Research Award
  • Winner of NuGEN Innovation Grant Challenge
  • NIH: Director's New Innovator Award
  • Scientist Development Award-American Heart Association
  • W.W.Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research-UT Southwestern
  • HHMI Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation
  • Dean’s Discretionary Award, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine (2014)
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (2008)
  • Society for Neuroscience