Fu was born and raised in Taiwan and pursued graduate studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Ohio State University, followed by a postdoc at Baylor College of Medicine where she received her training in human genetics. Early in her career, she made seminal discoveries leading to understanding of the molecular basis underlying genetic anticipation. She discovered that expansion of trinucelotide repeats is the cause of fragile X mental retardation and myotonic dystrophy and that such expansions are unstable and may expand on passage through meiosis (which correlates with more severe disease). This mutational mechanism is common among human genetic diseases – her discoveries paved the way for identification of expanded trinucleotide repeats in genes causing many neurodegenerative disorders. During a detour where she spent over four years in Biotech, she played a major role in the cloning of two important human disease genes for premature aging and Alzheimer disease. Upon returning to Academia, her lab has continued to focus on identification of genes/mutations causing human neurologic phenotypes including sleep behaviors. She joined the faculty at the University of Utah in 1997 and was recruited to the University of California, San Francisco in 2002.

Research Interests

Ying-Hui Fu's laboratory is interested in using a combination of human genetics, molecular biology, cellular biology and neurocircuitry methods to unravel human sleep behavioral traits. By identifying mutations from humans with unusual sleep behavioral traits, her research team can, in an unbiased way, delve into detailed mechanistic work. She uses in vitro molecular and cellular tools and in vivo mouse models to validate the causal nature of gene mutations and explores the pathways in which these genes function to regulate human sleep and circadian function. As sleep is a "systems-level" behavior, Dr. Fu has embraced emerging neuroscience tools to contribute insights into function and regulation of sleep networks in the brain. By comparing normal and mutant humans and mice, specific questions relevant to sleep modulation can be addressed. Since sleep is tightly connected to physical and mental health, her laboratory also probes the connection between sleep and cognitive function, emotional well-being, and general processes for healthy human aging.

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Primary Section

Section 42: Medical Physiology and Metabolism

Secondary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience