2005.09-2011.07 Peking University, Bioinformatics, Ph.D.
1999.09-2003.07 East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST)
Major: Bioengineering, bachelor
Secondary: Computer Science, bachelor
2018.12- Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing , director of bioinformatics center and computational core
2018.03-2018.11 Yale University, School of Medicine, Department of Genetics, associate research scientist
2017.03-2017.12 The University of Chicago, Department of Ecology and Evolution, staff
2012.04-2017.01 The University of Chicago, Department of Ecology and Evolution, postdoc
2012.01-2012.04 Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, postdoc
I plan to focus on the relationship between new cell types and intelligence which is a part of a novel conceptual framework derived from my previous research. In Darwinian world, selection picks out and preserves adaptive mutations. However, selection can’t efficiently pick out adaptive mutations when they are linked with deleterious mutations. Sexual recombination breaks the linkage between adaptive and deleterious mutations and promotes new gene evolution in plants and animals. Following the same idea, adaptive immunity breaks the linkage between adaptive and deleterious cells and promotes cell evolution. Adaptive immunity originated in basal vertebrates which explains why plants still rely on de novo genes. Diverse cell types emerged during vertebrate evolution which indeed agrees with the evo-devo theory. As an important innovation of vertebrate evolution, human intelligence potentially results from cell evolution. Conceptually, my question is how new cell types contribute to intelligence. Currently, it’s more realistic to start with Drosophila species which are closely related and have a workable number of brain cells. Drosophila is invertebrate but has rare de novo genes. This study will be a strong support to build the conceptual framework of cell evolution and understand the origin of intelligence from the standing point of cell evolution. This study requires to develop high quality single cell technologies but more importantly it will define what a cell type is. The best strategy is to incorporate between-species comparison to define cell types by evolutionary conservativeness. My previous work on new gene evolution can generate a mapping list of between-species orthologous genes which can be used to quickly set up a pipeline for between-species cell type comparison.