Dr Wenjun Xiong (熊文君博士)

PhD (The University of Chicago)

Assistant Professor

Dr Wenjun Xiong

Contact Information

Office: 1B-103, 1/F, Block 1,
To Yuen Building
Phone: +852 3442-2494
Fax: +852 3442-0549
Email: wenjun.xiong@cityu.edu.hk
Web: Personal Homepage
CityU Scholars

Research Interests

  • Photoreceptor cells
  • Retinal degeneration diseases
  • Gene therapy
  • Regenerative medicine

Dr Xiong received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Chicago in 2010. Under the supervision of Prof. Ilaria Rebay, she studied how multiple signaling pathways interact in space and time to ensure the accurate developmental program of the Drosophila compound eye. In 2011, she joined the laboratory of Prof. Constance Cepko at Harvard Medical School, where she studied the disease mechanisms of inherited blindness and developed gene therapies to prolong vision in mouse models. In August 2015, she joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at City University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor.

Research Interests

Vision is by far the most important sense of human beings. Our ability to see the world around us is empowered by photoreceptor cells, the specialized light-sensing neurons in the retina. Despite their essential function, photoreceptors are particularly vulnerable to intrinsic and environmental challenges and undergo cell death in many retinal degeneration diseases, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa (a rare and devastating inherited eye disorder) and Age-related Macular Degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in elderly people). Our research goal is to unveil the molecular mechanisms that can facilitate the rescue, replacement, or regeneration of the photoreceptor neurons in the face of degeneration. We hope to translate our work in animal models into the development of novel gene therapy and regenerative medicine for retinal degeneration patients.

My current research interests include:

  1. To understand the mechanisms underlying photoreceptor degeneration in mouse models of eye diseases through a combination of molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches.
  2. To rescue photoreceptors from degeneration by overexpressing candidate anti-stress genes via adeno-associated virus vector (AAV).
  3. To explore the potential of other retinal cell types to regenerate photoreceptors in mouse retinas.
  4. To develop new animal models for retinal degeneration diseases, including high myopia and glaucoma.

Position Availability

We are looking for talented people to join our team.

  • PhD positions are available. Candidates who have a strong interest in our research and meet the basic requirements of the University and BMS department are encouraged to apply. Interested candidates can send CV and a short summary of past research experience to Dr Xiong (wenjun.xiong@cityu.edu.hk).
  • Undergraduate students who seek for lab experience are welcome to contact Dr Xiong directly by email, phone or office visit.
  • Postdoctoral fellow and Research Assistant positions are also available upon enquiry.

Selected Publications

  1. Xiong, W. #*, Wu DM.#, Xue Y.#, Wang SK., Chung MJ., Ji X., Rana P., Zhao SR., Mai S., and Cepko CL*. "AAV cis-regulatory sequences are correlated with ocular toxicity". PNAS. 2019, 116 (12): 5785-5794. (#Co-first authors; *Co-corresponding authors) https://www.pnas.org/content/116/12/5785.long
    A newsletter about the work can be found at : http://www.cityu.edu.hk/vprt/news/2019/reveal-the-correlations-between-gene-therapy-vectors-and-toxicity/
  2. Zhu, J., Ming, C., Fu, X., Duan, Y., Hoang, D. A., Rutgard, J., Zhang, R., Wang, W., Hou, R., Zhang, D., Zhang, E., Zhang, C., Hao, X.*, Xiong, W.*, Zhang, K.*. "Gene and mutation independent therapy via CRISPR-Cas9 mediated cellular reprogramming in rod photoreceptors". Cell Res, 2017. Doi: 10.1038/cr.2017.57. (*co-corresponding author) https://www.nature.com/cr/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/cr201757a.html
  3. Hoi, C. S., Xiong, W., and Rebay, I. "Retinal axon guidance requires integration of Eya and the Jak/Stat Pathway into phosphotyrosine-based signaling circuitries in Drosophila". Genetics, 2016, 203(3):1283-95. http://www.genetics.org/content/203/3/1283.long
  4. Xiong, W., Garfinkel, A., Li, Y., Benowitz, L., and Cepko, C. “Nrf2 promotes neuron survival in neurodegeneration and acute nerve damage”. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2015, 125(4):1433-45. http://www.jci.org/articles/view/79735
  5. Xiong, W. and Cepko, C. “Distinct expression patterns of AAV8 vectors with broadly active promoters from subretinal injections of neonatal mouse eyes at two different ages”. In: Westendorf, S., LaVail, M., Bowes, R. eds. Retinal degeneration. New York: Springer; 2015. In press. (Book Chapter)
  6. Xiong, W., Morrilo, S. and Rebay, I. “Regulation of Notch endocytosis and signaling by the Abelson tyrosine kinase is important for neuronal cell fate maintenance in Drosophila photoreceptors”. Development, 2013, 140,176-184. http://dev.biologists.org/content/140/1/176.long
  7. Punzo, C., Xiong, W. and Cepko, C.L. “Loss of daylight vision in retinal degeneration: are oxidative stress and metabolic dysregulation to blame?” Review. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012, 287(3):1642-8. http://www.jbc.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=22074929
  8. Xiong, W. and Rebay, I. “Abelson tyrosine kinase is required for Drosophila photoreceptor morphogenesis and retinal epithelial patterning”. Developmental Dynamics, 2011, 240(7):1745-55. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dvdy.22674/full
  9. Xiong, W., Dabbouseh, N. and Rebay, I. “Interactions with the Abelson tyrosine kinase reveal compartmentalization of Eyes absent function between nucleus and cytoplasm”. Developmental Cell, 2009, 16(2):271-9. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1534580708005157
    • Highlighted by Faculty of 1000.