I received PhD training in Drosophila genetics, and later worked as a postdotoral fellow in the field of human genetics.  I look at things slightly different from many others, i.e., I may more appreacite things from the evolutionary perspective.  My group uses lower organisms such as yeast as well as more sophisicated animals such as drosophila and mice, to address problems of our interests.

Research Areas

We combine the use of genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, physiology and biochemistry for our work. One interest of my group is about homeosastsis of iron and zinc, and how it is related to human diseases. We use primarily drosophila and mice to address the question. Another interest is about the antimalarial mechanism of artemisinins.   


1989-1995  University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology

1983-1987  Fudan University, Shanghai, China. BS in Genetics 


Work Experience

2002-      Professor, Tsinghua University

2000-2002. Postdoctral fellow, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

1995-1999.  Postdoctral fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Teaching Experience

​2003-2020 Lecturer of Genetics, Tsinghua University

2002.  Lecturer of Biochemstry I (for 2 chapters), Tsinghua University

1990 Teaching assistant, Genetics, UC Berkeley


1. Huang Y, Wan Z, Wang Z, Zhou B (2019). Insulin signaling in Drosophila melanogaster mediates Aβ toxicity. Commun Biol. 2019 Jan 8;2:13. doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0253-x. eCollection 2019.

2. Xiao G, Liu ZH, Zhao M, Wang HL, Zhou B (2019). Transferrin 1 Functions in Iron Trafficking and Genetically Interacts with Ferritin in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Rep. 2019 Jan 15;26(3):748-758.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.053.

3. Yin S, Qin Q, Zhou B (2017). Functional studies of Drosophila zinc transporters reveal the mechanism for zinc excretion in Malpighian tubules. BMC Biol. 2017 Feb 14; 15(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0355-9.

4. Xiao G, Wan Z, Fan Q, Tang X, Zhou B (2014). The metal transporter ZIP13 supplies iron into the secretory pathway in Drosophila melanogaster. Elife 3:e03191. doi: 10.7554/eLife.03191.

5. Huang Y, Wu Z, Cao Y, Lang M, Lu B, Zhou B (2014). Direct Zinc Binding Is Critical for Tau Toxicity Independent of Hyperphosphorylation. Cell Reports 8(3):831-42.

6. Xiao G, Fan Q, Wang X, Zhou B (2013). Huntington disease arises from a combinatory toxicity of polyglutamine and copper binding. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110 (37):14995-5000.

7. Qin Q, Wang X, Zhou B (2013). Functional studies of Drosophila zinc transporters reveal the mechanism for dietary zincabsorption and regulation. BMC Biol. 11:101. doi: 10.1186/1741-7007-11-101.

8. Tang X, Zhou B (2013). Ferritin is the key to dietary iron absorption and tissue iron detoxification in Drosophila melanogaster. FASEB J. 27(1):288-298.

9. Feng Y*, Li W*, Li J*, Wang J, Ge J, Xu D, Liu Y, Wu K, Zeng Q, Wu J, Tian C, Zhou B, Maojun Yang (2012). Structural insight into the type-II mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenases. Nature 491:478-482 (*lab student co-first author)

10. Lang M, Wang L, Fan Q, Xiao G, Wang X, Zhong Y, Zhou B (2012). Genetic Inhibition of SLC 39 Family Transporter 1 Ameliorates Abeta Pathology in a Drosophila model of Alzheimer's Disease. PLoS Genetics 8(4):e1002683

11. Wu Z, Du Y, Xue H, Wu Y, Zhou B (2012). Aluminum induces neurodegeneration and its toxicity arises from increased iron accumulation and ROS production. Neurobiology of Aging 33(1):199-211. e1-12

12. Wu Z, Li C, Lv S, Zhou B. (2009). Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration: insights from a Drosophila model. Human Molecular Genetics 18(19):3659-3672.

13. Li W, Mo W, Shen D, Sun L, Wang J, Lu S, Gitschier JM, Zhou B. (2005). Yeast model uncovers dual roles of mitochondria in the action of artemisinin. PLoS Genetics. 1(3): 0329-0334

14. Zhou B, Westaway S, Levinson B, Johnson M., Gitschier J, Hayflick S. (2001). A novel pantothenate kinase is defective in Hallervorden-Spatz syndrome. Nature Genetics (cover), 28(4), 345-349

15. Zhou B, Gitschier J. (1997) hCTR1: A human gene for copper uptake identified by complementation in yeast. PNAS 94, 7481-7486.

Research Interests

1. Metal homeostasis and diseases in Drosophila and mice models

The homeostasis of metals, such as zinc and iron, is not well elucidated in multicellular organisms. Many diseases may be relevant to trace metal metabolism. For example, neurodegeneration is often accompanied by metal accumulation in the affected pathological regions. The excellent genetic platform of Drosophila has not yet been well taken advantage of to address the biology of trace element metabolism. We adopt the fruit fly, in combination of the rodent models, to study metal homeostasis and diseases. Our study provides a unique approach to address metal homeostasis. Our current focus is on iron delivery and zinc transport. 

2. Mode of action of artemisinin

Malaria is one of the three major infectious diseases currently inflicting human being. Artemisinin, or Qinghaosu, is the only major hope that we have against drug-resistant malaria parasites. Despite years of use and research, the mode of action of artemisinin remains a mystery.

Our prior work with yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has shown artemisinin inhibits yeast through interfering with its mitochondrial functions. Our current work is to explore exactly how this work was achieved, by combining the use of yeast, malaria parasites and mammalian cells.

Honors & Distinctions

2006 National Oustanding Youth Scholar