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Mike Chao

Mike Chao

, Professor


UEC - Miscellaneous Projects & Grants
Office Phone(909) 537-5388
Office LocationBI-318
Office Phone(909) 537-5388
Office LocationBI-318

Office Hours

Monday: 10:00-12:00
Wednesday: 10:00-12:00


B.S. Zoology, National Taiwan University

Ph.D. Genetics and Development, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School


BIOL 3100 - Cell Biology

BIOL 3300 - Genetics

BIOL 5150 - Neurobiology

BIOL 5280 - Molecular Genetics

Research and Teaching Interests

My research interests are in understanding the molecular basis of animal behavior, particularly in understanding neural plasticity at the molecular and cellular levels. If someone pokes you with their finger, you respond differently if they poke you from the front, or if they surprise you from the back. How are neural circuits controlled so that we respond differently to a given stimulus? What are the genes that are involved in this process?

In my lab we use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to study the molecular and cellular basis of chemosensory behavior and how it is regulated by environmental conditions. C. elegans is a powerful model system that is used to study molecular and behavioral neuroscience, because of its extremely simple and well-described nervous system. The adult C. elegans ( about 1 mm long) has only 302 neurons in its entire nervous system. Furthermore, the 'wiring' of its entire nervous system is known down to the level of individual synapses. Finally, C. elegans is highly amenable to experimental manipulation. In my lab, we use various molecular, cellular, behavioral, and genetic techniques, including generating transgenic animals, optical physiological methods, CRISPR, and recombinant DNA.

We are currently interested in understanding how the neurotransmitter dopamine contributes to the regulation of C. elegans chemosensory behavior. By studying a simple model organism such as C. elegans, we hope to gain insight into understanding how the nervous systems of more complex animals function. Several C. elegans genes, including gpa-11, dgk-1, nmr-1, glr-1, glr-2, and dop-1, dop-2, and dop-3 appear to be important for controlling C. elegans behavior. We are taking genetic and behavioral approaches to further understanding the roles of the genes.