Haotian Zhao, Ph.D., holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in medicine from China Medical University, as well as a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from The Ohio State University. He completed his postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children‘s Research Hospital and his current research group at NYITCOM studies the biological processes responsible for childhood brain tumors. Using cellular and genetic approaches, as well as next-generation sequencing technologies, Zhao’s laboratory illustrates the dynamic transcriptomic and epigenetic landscapes in pediatric brain tumors. The group has developed multiple pre-clinical models to understand the biology of pediatric brain tumors and to identify and develop new therapies to target tumor growth without damaging the developing brain.

Recent Projects/Research

  1. Leptomeningeal metastasis: Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor that arises from the cerebellum. Leptomeningeal metastasis, frequently present at diagnosis and recurrence of MB, occurs when tumor cells spread to the leptomeninges along the surface of the brain and spinal cord. Zhao’s team is focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms of MB metastasis, and the development and evaluation of therapeutic candidates.
  2. Rare pediatric brain cancer: Zhao’s team has developed animal models of choroid plexus (CP) papilloma and carcinoma that resemble their human counterparts. In this project, the group will utilize orthotopic transplantation to evaluate potential therapeutic vulnerabilities in CP carcinoma. Novel findings from these studies may lead to into improved treatment for patients with CP tumors.


  • Wildung M, Esser TU, Grausam KB, Wiedwald C, Volceanov-Hahn L, Riedel D, Beuermann S, Li L, Zylla J, Guenther AK, Wienken M, Ercetin E, Han Z, Bremmer F, Shomroni O, Andreas S, Zhao H*, Lizé M. Transcription factor TAp73 and microRNA-449 complement each other to support multiciliogenesis. Cell Death Differ. 2019 May 8. doi: 10.1038/s41418-019-0332-7. PubMed PMID: 31068677. (*Co-corresponding author)
  • Terré B, Lewis M, Gil-Gómez G, Han Z, Lu H, Aguilera M, Prats N, Roy S, Zhao H, Stracker TH. Defects in efferent duct multiciliogenesis underlie male infertility in GEMC1-, MCIDAS- or CCNO-deficient mice. Development. 2019 Apr 23;146(8). pii: dev162628. doi: 10.1242/dev.162628. PubMed PMID: 30936178; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6503982
  • Haotian Zhao and David D. Eisenstat. Editorial: Mechanisms and Therapy for Cancer Metastasis to the Central Nervous System. Front. Oncol., 12 February 2019
  • Grausam KB, Dooyema SDR, Bihannic L, Premathilake H, Morrissy AS, Forget A, Schaefer AM, Gundelach JH, Macura S, Maher DM, Wang X, Heglin AH, Ge X, Zeng E, Puget S, Chandrasekar I, Surendran K, Bram RJ, Schüller U, Talyor MD, Ayrault O, Zhao H. ATOH1 Promotes Leptomeningeal Dissemination and Metastasis of Sonic Hedgehog Subgroup Medulloblastomas. Cancer research. 2017; 77(14):3766–3777. NIHMSID: NIHMS875727 PubMed [journal] PMID: 28490517, PMCID: PMC5512702
  • Grassmeyer J, Mukherjee M, deRiso J, Hettinger C, Bailey M, Sinha S, Visvader JE, Zhao H, Fogarty E, Surendran K. Elf5 is a principal cell lineage specific transcription factor in the kidney that contributes to Aqp2 and Avpr2 gene expression. Developmental biology. 2017; 424(1):77–89. NIHMSID: NIHMS854169 PubMed [journal] PMID: 28215940, PMCID: PMC5382981
  • Li L, Grausam KB, Wang J, Lun MP, Ohli J, Lidov HG, Calicchio ML, Zeng E, Salisbury JL, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Lehtinen MK, Schüller U, Zhao H. Sonic Hedgehog promotes proliferation of Notch-dependent monociliated choroid plexus tumour cells. Nature cell biology. 2016; 18(4):418–30. NIHMSID: NIHMS759136 PubMed [journal] PMID: 26999738, PMCID: PMC4814324 (Comment in Nat Cell Biol. 2016 Apr;18(4):368–9, recommended by Faculty 1000)
  • Khan S, Ebeling MC, Chauhan N, Thompson PA, Gara RK, Ganju A, Yallapu MM, Behrman SW, Zhao H, Zafar N, Singh MM, Jaggi M, Chauhan SC. Ormeloxifene suppresses desmoplasia and enhances sensitivity of gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer. Cancer research. 2015; 75(11):2292–304. NIHMSID: NIHMS677248 PubMed [journal] PMID: 25840985, PMCID: PMC4452412
  • Ayrault O, Zhao H, Zindy F, Qu C, Sherr CJ, Roussel MF. Atoh1 inhibits neuronal differentiation and collaborates with Gli1 to generate medulloblastoma-initiating cells. Cancer research. 2010; 70(13):5618–27. NIHMSID: NIHMS202348 PubMed [journal] PMID: 20516124, PMCID: PMC2896438
  • Zhao H, Yang T, Madakashira BP, Thiels CA, Bechtle CA, Garcia CM, Zhang H, Yu K, Ornitz DM, Beebe DC, Robinson ML. Fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling is essential for lens fiber cell differentiation. Developmental biology. 2008;318(2):276–88. NIHMSID: NIHMS52425 PubMed [journal] PMID: 18455718, PMCID: PMC2574794
  • Zhao H, Ayrault O, Zindy F, Kim JH, Roussel MF. Post-transcriptional down-regulation of Atoh1/Math1 by bone morphogenic proteins suppresses medulloblastoma development. Genes & Development. 2008; 22(6):722–7. PubMed [journal] PMID: 18347090, PMCID: PMC2275424 (Comment in Genes Dev. 2008 Mar 15;22(6):693–9, and Science Signaling 25 Mar 2008: Vol. 1, Issue 12, pp. ec111)
  • Poladia DP, Kish K, Kutay B, Hains D, Kegg H, Zhao H, Bates CM. Role of fibroblast growth factor receptors 1 and 2 in the metanephric mesenchyme. Developmental biology. 2006; 291(2):325–39. PubMed [journal] PMID: 16442091
  • Zhao H, Yang Y, Partanen J, Ciruna BG, Rossant J, Robinson ML. Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (Fgfr1) is not essential for lens fiber differentiation in mice. Molecular vision. 2006; 12:15–25. NIHMSID: NIHMS52478 PubMed [journal] PMID: 16446698, PMCID: PMC4280232
  • Garcia CM, Yu K, Zhao H, Ashery-Padan R, Ornitz DM, Robinson ML, Beebe DC. Signaling through FGF receptor-2 is required for lens cell survival and for withdrawal from the cell cycle during lens fiber cell differentiation. Developmental dynamics: an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2005; 233(2):516–27. PubMed [journal] PMID: 15778993
  • Yang T, Lapinski PE, Zhao H, Zhou Q, Zhang H, Raghavan M, Liu Y, Zheng P. A rare transporter associated with antigen processing polymorphism overpresented in HLAlow colon cancer reveals the functional significance of the signature domain in antigen processing. Clinical cancer research: an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. 2005; 11(10):3614–23. PubMed [journal] PMID: 15897556
  • Zhao H, Kegg H, Grady S, Truong HT, Robinson ML, Baum M, Bates CM. Role of fibroblast growth factor receptors 1 and 2 in the ureteric bud. Developmental biology. 2004; 276(2):403–15. NIHMSID: NIHMS611686 PubMed [journal] PMID: 15581874, PMCID: PMC4131686 (Recommended by Faculty 1000)
  • Zhao H, Yang Y, Rizo CM, Overbeek PA, Robinson ML. Insertion of a Pax6 consensus binding site into the alphaA-crystallin promoter acts as a lens epithelial cell enhancer in transgenic mice. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2004; 45(6):1930–9. PubMed [journal] PMID: 15161860
  • Ebong S, Chepelinsky AB, Robinson ML, Zhao H, Yu CR, Egwuagu CE. Characterization of the roles of STAT1 and STAT3 signal transduction pathways in mammalian lens development. Molecular vision. 2004; 10:122–31. PubMed [journal] PMID: 14978477

Professional Honors and Awards

  • Great Plains IDeA-Clinical and Translational Research Travel Award, 2017.
  • Pediatric Basic Research Award, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 2014.
  • Young Investigator Award in Basic/Translational Research, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 2014.
  • Travel Award, Annual Graduate and Post-Graduate Research Day, The Ohio State University Medical Center, 2003.

Courses Taught at New York Tech

  • DPC 602: Biopsychosocial Sciences