Shao-yu Chen, Ph.D.


Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology



Ph.D., Biochemistry, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (1991)

Research Areas and Special Projects

Dr. Chen has conducted alcohol-related birth defects research for more than 20 years. His research program focuses on elucidation of cellular and molecular mechanisms of alcohol-induced birth defects. In his laboratory, a combination of state-of-the-art approaches, including RNA interference, microRNA technology and ultrasound-guide in utero microinjection are integrated with cell and whole embryo culture systems, as well as in vivo mouse and zebrafish models of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying FASD. Dr. Chen’s laboratory has been successfully conducting innovative and pioneering research in various areas, including Nrf2, Siah1 signaling pathways and the microRNAs involved in ethanol-induced apoptosis and birth defects.  These studies have provided important information regarding the mechanisms underlying ethanol-induced birth defects.  His research has also clearly shown the effectiveness of a number of agents, including antioxidants, the neuroprotective peptides, and microRNA mimics, in the prevention of alcohol-induced apoptosis and structural abnormalities in embryos. These findings are expected to validate possible molecular targets and yield innovative strategies for the prevention of FASD and give hope that antioxidants, certain peptides or microRNA mimics could lessen the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure in the children of women who are unable to curtail their alcohol abuse while pregnant.of cellular and molecular mechanisms of alcohol-induced birth defects utilizing a combination of experimental approaches including interference, technology, and ultrasound-guided in utero microinjection in cellular, whole embryo and in vivo mouse models.