Our Group

Principal Investigator

shuying-sunShuying Sun, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pathology
Brain Science Institute
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Shuying carried out her undergraduate studies at Shandong University in China. She went on to obtain her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University in Dr. Adrian Krainer’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, focusing on the basic mechanisms of RNA processing, especially the regulation of alternative splicing and function of RNA-binding proteins. From this experience, she became fascinated by the complexity of RNA processing pathways in nervous system. She had postdoc training in Dr. Don Cleveland’s laboratory at UCSD and applied knowledge and techniques in basic RNA biology to understand how dysfunctions of RNA metabolism provoke neurodegeneration, an increasingly important theme in human diseases, particularly neurological disorders. Shuying started her own laboratory in Pathology Department and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University in July 2016. Her team is exploring RNA metabolism dysfunction and RNA-targeting therapy in neurodegenerative diseases.


Postdoctoral Fellows


Shaopeng Wang, Ph.D.

Shaopeng received his doctoral degree in June 2016, from Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His graduate work, in Dr. Chunhai Fan’s lab, mainly focused on superresolution imaging and live cell dynamic imaging. He joined Dr. Sun’s lab in December 2016. Shaopeng is interested in revealing the mechanisms of RNA mediated toxicity in ALS/FTD by combining imaging methods with CRISPR technology.




Daoyuan Dong, Ph.D.

Daoyuan received her PhD degree from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in May 2017. Her thesis is focused on developing targeted drug delivery system for cancer treatment. Daoyuan joined Dr. Sun’s lab in November 2017. She is currently working on investigating the RNA mediated toxicity by determining the C9orf72 RNA repeats-binding proteins, and also developing platforms to understand DPR-mediated toxicity.





Zhe Zhang, Ph.D.

Zhe received her PhD degree from the University of Queensland in Australia in March 2018. Her PhD study is focused on sulfate transporter regulated postnatal brain development and its correlation with autism. Zhe joined Dr. Sun’s lab in June 2018. Her current research interest is to investigate the degradation pathways of DPRs. She is also interested in developing a platform which is suitable for CRISPR screening.




Yini Li, Ph.D.

Yini received her PhD degree in Biology at Syracuse University. She performed her PhD thesis work in the lab of Dr. Eleanor Maine, where she studied germ cell development and RNA modifications. As a post-doc in the Sun lab, Yini is investigating the connection between RNA repeats and chromatin dynamics. She is also interested in potential modifications on repeat RNAs.




Rong Wu, Ph.D.

Rong received his PhD degree from Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in July 2016. His PhD study was focus on the molecular mechanism of neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic disorders. Then he moved to Beijing Institute of Basic Medical Sciences as a postdoctoral fellow to study the role of RNA m6A modification in neurodevelopment until January 2019. Rong joined Dr. Sun’s lab in May 2019. His current research interest is how RNA repeats regulate RNA granule homeostasis and contribute to neurodegeneration.



Visiting Students

Yongzhi Xie

Yongzhi is a Ph.D candidate student from the Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University. He focuses on neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson disease and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, in State Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics in China. Yongzhi attended the joint Ph.D program and joined Dr. Sun’s lab in October 2017. His current research focused on compounds screening on poly-dipeptide production from C9orf72 repeat expansion in ALS and FTD.




Research Technician

Leigh Kulpa

Leigh is a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University where they received their B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and B.A. in French. As a Research Technician, Leigh is responsible for ordering supplies, maintaining stock, lab organization, and assisting with experiments. In the future, they hope to pursue a PhD in cell biology or a related field.





Undergraduate Students

Gary Xian

Wilson Tjoeng

Griffin Prieto



Weiwei Cheng – postdoc 2016-2019 – current: Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xinhua Hospital.

Shirui Yan – technician 2017-2019 – current: Harvard University.