Dongjiao Zhao

Dongjiao Zhao


B.S., China Medical University 
Ph. D., Purdue University   

Contact Information:

(570) 321-4189

Biology: Assistant professor of biology

Special Interest: Adult stem cell biology and muscle regeneration

My research interests focus on adult stem cell biology and muscle development and regeneration. In our research, we investigated the role of the peripheral endocannabinoid system in skeletal muscle development and maintenance and found an increase in cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) mRNA and endocannabinoid synthetic enzyme mRNA skeletal muscle cells during differentiation.

For future studies, the signaling pathway of CB1 in skeletal muscle is one of my research interests. Another future study aims at demonstrating the potential of endocannabinoid in the management of muscle fiber phenotypes. Yet another study will detect the effects of CB1 agonists and antagonist on the viability of rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) is highly up-regulated in rhabdomyosarcoma biopsies bearing the typical chromosomal translocations PAX3/FKHR or PAX7/FKHR. Based on our preliminary results, the hypothesis is that CB1 antagonist can inhibit rhabdomyosarcoma cell growth.

This research will contribute to the understanding of the role of the endocannabinoid system in skeletal muscle metabolism and muscle oxygen consumption, and also help to explain the effects of the peripheral endocannabinoid system on whole-body energy balance. In addition, our research will also contribute to muscle development and regeneration, adult stem cell biology, and therapy in rhabdomyosarcomas.