Dr. Jia achieved his PhD degree in Molecular Genetics from The Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2000. He is currently an associate professor of Biochemistry at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Dr. Jia studies molecular mechanisms of Hedgehog (Hh) signal transduction and the roles of Hh signaling components in development and cancer, using both Drosophila and vertebrate cell lines as models. He has recently focused his interests on the regulation of Smoothened (Smo), a seven-span transmembrane protein required for transduction of the Hh signal in cells exposed to Hh ligand. Novel mechanisms regarding Smo phosphorylation/dephosphorylation, ubiquitination/deubiquitination, and intracellular trafficking have been investigated. Since abnormal Smo activation results in such cancers as basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma, these studies will provide insights into fundamental developmental problems and new avenues for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Along the other directions, Dr. Jia is also working on the signaling mechanisms of Wnt/Wingles and Hippo/MST pathways and on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, searching for diagnostic tools and therapeutical treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Associate Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry