Professor, Department of Neurology
Dr. Fu received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Ohio State University. Her thesis work focused on cloning and characterizing genes/mutations in the filamentous fungi, Neurospora crassa, giving rise to sulfur and nitrogen metabolism phenotypes. She performed post doctoral training at the Baylor college of Medicine where she started her career in Human Genetics of Disease. During her time at Baylor, she cloned the genes responsible for Fragile X mental retardation and Myotonic dystrophy. Her work led to the discovery that expansions of unstable repeats are the molecular mechanism underlying the phenomenon of genetic anticipation (the phenomenon where disease onset is earlier and severity greater in subsequent generations). She then spent 4 years in the biotech industry and was one of the early scientists at Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. and later at Darwin Molecular Corp. She returned to academia in the late 1990’s. Since then, she has been working in the field of human circadian rhythm and demyelinating disorders. Her lab has identified two genes that when mutated can lead to devastating demyelinating diseases. In collaboration with Dr. Louis Ptacek, her lab has also identified several mutations for “Advanced sleep phase syndrome” that affect people’s sleep schedule behavior. Recently, new genes and mutations were identified in her lab that can affect human sleep quantity. Much of this work has moved from gene/mutation identification to in vitro studies and in vivo modeling of the mutant phenotypes in flies, fish, and mice.