Weiwei Zhong

Scholar: 2009

Awarded Institution
Associate Professor
Rice University
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology


Research Interests

Genetic Interaction Map of Development Genes

Our research goal is to decipher the gene networks behind complex traits such as development and behavior. We apply a suite of technologies in genetics, computer science, and engineering in our approach. We are interested in both developing new technologies for genetic studies and applying these tools to conduct large-scale genetic screens in the nematode C. elegans.

  • Develop high-throughput tools

Hypothesis-driven research is a process of two steps: hypothesis generation and experimental verification. We develop high-throughput tools for both steps. Specifically, we are building a bioinformatic system that predicts genetic interaction networks, and a computer vision system that facilitates high-speed experimental testing of C. elegans genetic interactions.

  • Conduct large-scale genetic screens
The experimental principle to verify genetic interactions is simply inactivating two genes simultaneously, comparing the phenotypes of the double mutants to those of the single mutants, and screening for suppression and enhancement of phenotypes. The challenge is how to extend such a study to a genome scale on complex phenotypes. Our high-throughput research pipeline enables us to carry out this procedure en masse. We are conducting quantitative genetic screens in C. elegans to discover the gene networks regulating development, behavior, and physiology.

How does a genome specify the properties of an organism? With the systems biology approach, we expect to bring new insights into the classical quest in genetics for underlying mechanisms of genome function.