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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Chao Zhao

Dr Chao Zhao

Assistant Director of Research

Chao Zhao is interested in taking PhD students.

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223765131


My research focuses on the mechanism of remyelination of the central nervous system after demyelination in various conditions. Demyelinating injury initialises a repair process, which involves oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (a type of adult stem cells) turning into mature myelinating oligodendrocytes which replace the lost myelin sheath of the axons. Failure of this process can result in axonal loss and permanent functional deficits, as seen in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Understanding the remyelination process, including the regulatory factors in injury environment and the cell's intrinsic properties is essential for finding means of enhancing the repair of normally non-repairable clinical conditions. We combine molecular and cellular techniques, genetic approaches and in vivo demyelination models to dissect this complicated process focusing on the activation and differentiation of adult stem cells.

Subject groups/Research projects


Research Interests

Image: showing activated oligodendrocyte progenitor cells co-expressing Nkx@.2 (red) and Sox2 mRNA (green) in the area of demyelination at early stage in CNS white matter.


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Adult stem cells
  • Remyelination

Key Publications

Stoffels JM, de Jonge J, Stancic M, Nomden A, Van Strien ME, Ma, D, Siskova Z, Maier O, ffrench-Constant C, Franklin RJM, Hoekstra D, Zhao C*, Baron W* (2012) Fibronectin aggregation in multiple sclerosis lesions impairs remyelination. Brain, in press.

Hampton DW, Innes N, Merkler D, Zhao C, Franklin RJ, Chandran S (2012) Focal immune-mediated white matter demyelination reveals an age-associated increase in axonal vulnerability and decreased remyelination efficiency.. Am J Pathol. 180(5):1897-905

Chong SY, Rosenberg SS, Fancy SP, Zhao C, Shen YA, Hahn AT, McGee AW, Xu X, Zheng B, Zhang LI, Rowitch DH, Franklin RJ, Lu QR, Chan JR. (2011) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(4):1299-304

Fancy SP, Harrington EP, Yuen TJ, Silbereis JC, Zhao C, Baranzini SE, Bruce CC, Otero JJ, Huang EJ, Nusse R, Franklin RJ, Rowitch DH. (2011) Axin2 as regulatory and therapeutic target in newborn brain injury and remyelination. Nat Neurosci. 14(8):1009-16.

Zambonin JL, Zhao C, Ohno N, Campbell GR, Engeham S, Ziabreva I, Schwarz N, Lee SE, Frischer JM, Turnbull DM, Trapp BD, Lassmann H, Franklin RJ, Mahad DJ. (2011) Increased mitochondrial content in remyelinated axons: implications for multiple sclerosis. Brain. 134(Pt 7):1901-13.

Syed YA, Hand E, Möbius W, Zhao C, Hofer M, Nave KA, Kotter MR. (2011) Inhibition of CNS remyelination by the presence of semaphorin 3A. J Neurosci. 2011 Mar 9;31(10):3719-28.

Huang JK, Jarjour AA, Oumesmar BN, Kerninon C, Williams A, Krezel W, Kagechika H, Bauer J, Zhao C, Evercooren AB, Chambon P, Ffrench-Constant C, Franklin RJ. (2011) Retinoid X receptor gamma signaling accelerates CNS remyelination. Nat Neurosci. 14(1):45-53.

Harrington EP, Zhao C, Fancy SP, Kaing S, Franklin RJ, Rowitch DH (2010). Oligodendrocyte PTEN is required for myelin and axonal integrity, not remyelination. Ann Neurol. 68(5):703-16.

Zawadzka M, Rivers LE, Fancy SP, Zhao C, Tripathi R, Jamen F, Young K, Goncharevich A, Pohl H, Rizzi M, Rowitch DH, Kessaris N, Suter U, Richardson WD, Franklin RJ (2010) CNS-resident glial progenitor/stem cells produce Schwann cells as well as oligodendrocytes during repair of CNS demyelination. Cell Stem Cell 6(6):578-90.

Zhao C, Fancy SP, Franklin RJ, ffrench-Constant C (2009) Up-regulation of oligodendrocyte precursor cell alphaV integrin and its extracellular ligands during central nervous system remyelination. J Neurosci Res. 2009, 87(15):3447-55.