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Mao Fu, MBBS, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:


Phone (Primary):


Education and Training

  • West China University of Medical sciences, M.B.B.S. Medicine
  • West China University of Medical sciences, M.S. Histology and Embryology
  • West China University of Medical sciences, Ph.D. Endocrinology
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine, Posterdoctoral Fellow


Dr. Fu’s research interests are to identify genetic determinants for complex diseases that particularly focus on obesity, diabetes, and lipid metabolism. she has extensive experience in genome-wide association analyses, next generation DNA sequencing, transcriptome profiling with either microarray or sequencing (RNA-seq), statistics, and bioinformation. She also received extensive training in molecular biology methodology including extraction and purification of RNA, DNA and protein, genotyping, molecular cloning of interesting genes, qPCR, immunohistochemistry, western-blot, siRNA, shRNA, CRISPR, and numerous other methods. She has the range of skills – clinical, laboratory, statistics – that are essential requirements for advances in genetic field.

Dr. Fu is a creative scientist with unique techniques and exceptional abilities. She has published papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, JCEM, Diabetes, PLoS Genetics and Human Brain Mapping. She also serves on the editorial board of Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, and acts as a reviewer for over ten scientific journals. For example, She has been working on defining the genetic architecture of Lp(a) to glean insights into mechanisms of Lp(a) regulation and the role of Lp(a) in atherosclerosis. She sequenced chromosome 6q25-26 region using Target Enrichment Sequencing and identified two variants most strongly associated with Lp(a) were rs3798220 and rs10455872. She also measured copy numbers of kringle IV-2 (KIV-2) in LPA using qPCR. KIV-2 numbers were significantly associated with Lp(a).  Further analysis with RNAseq and qPCR in her lab revealed for first time that the levels of LPA mRNA were higher in the carriers than noncarriers of rs10455872 and were not different between carriers and noncarriers of rs3798220. The protein levels of apo(a) were also higher in the carriers than noncarriers of both rs10455872 and rs3798220. She is screening effect of lncRNA on regulation of LPA gene expression. She is currently conducting a study to investigate the association of mitochondria DNA variants with lipids and BMD. In addition, she has participated in the Whole-Genome Sequencing (WGS) Project of Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Program funded by the NHLBI for meta-analyses.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Genetics of complex disease, Obesity, Diabetes, Lipoprotein (a),Cardiovascular disease, Mitochondria, IHH

Highlighted Publications

Zillikens MC, Demissie S, Hsu Y, … … Fu M, … … Harris TB, Ohlsson C, Kiel DP. Large meta-analysis of genome wide association studies identifies five locus for lean body mass. Nature Communications. 2017, 8(1):80.

Wang H, Hong CE, Lewis JP, Zhu Y, Wang X, Chu X, Backman J, Hu Z, Yang P, Still CD, Gerhard GS, Fu M. Effect of two lipoprotein(a)-associated genetic variants on plasminogen levels and fibrinolysis. G3·Genes Genomes Genetics, 2016, 6(11): 3525-3532.

Lu W, Cheng YC, Chen K, Wang H, Gerhard GS, Still CD, Chu X, Yang R, Parihar A, O'Connell JR, Pollin TI, Angles-Cano E, Quon MJ, Mitchell BD, Shuldiner AR, Fu M. Evidence for several independent genetic variants affecting lipoprotein (a) cholesterol levels. Hum Mol Genet, 2015, 24(8):2390-2400.

Kilpeläinen TO, Zillikens MC, StanĨákova A, Finucane FM, Ried JS, Langenberg C, Zhang W, Beckmann JS, Luan J, Vandenput L, Styrkarsdottir U, Zhou Y, Smith AV, Zhao JH, Amin N, Vedantam S, Shin SY, Haritunians T, Fu M,… …, Fox CS, Laakso M, Loos RJ. Genetic variation near IRS1 associates with reduced adiposity and an impaired metabolic profile. Nat Genet. 2011; 43(8):753-6.

Fu M, Damcott CM, Sabra M, Pollin TI, Ott SH, Wang J, Garant MJ, O’Connell JR, Mitchell BD, Shuldiner AR. Polymorphism in the Calsequestrin 1 Gene on Chromosome 1q21 Is Associated with Type 2 Diabetes in the Old Order Amish. Diabetes. 2004, 53(12): 3292-3299.