Wen-Quan Zou received his medical degree from Jiangxi Medical College, his M.S. degree from Tongji Medical University, and his Ph.D. degree from Shanghai Medical University. He has practiced internal medicine and nephrology for six years in China, as both a Physician and an Attending Physician. His postdoctoral work in neurodegenerative diseases was done at the Institute of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University and at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Toronto. Dr. Zou’s research focus is in the areas of protein aggregation in the conformational diseases especially on the physiological and pathologic prion proteins (PrPC and PrPSc). The coexistence of the two molecules in the brain is a prerequisite for prion diseases, a group of fatal transmissible neurodegenerative diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in human, scrapie in sheep and goat, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. His laboratory is the first to demonstrate that a small amount of insoluble aggregates and protease-resistant conformers of PrP called silent prions is present in normal human brains. This finding is crucial to our understanding of the origin of prions in the spontaneous prion diseases, for it may establish the foundation upon which to explore the de novo generation of prions. Zou’s laboratory subsequently reveled that silent prions are also present in uninfected cultured neuronal cells. The discovery of silent prions may conceivably open a new frontier for investigating the pathogenesis of prion diseases. For instance, his laboratory recently demonstrated that protease-resistant PrPSc species with an immunoreactivity behavior similar to that of silent prions are observed in a novel human prion disease termed protease-resistant prionopathy and a relative early stage of sporadic fatal insomnia. Currently, his laboratory is studying the pathogenicity and pathophysiology of silent prions and the functions of PrPC.
Biography Updated on 1 November 2009