About Ma lab

The research lab of Liang Ma, PhD, seeks to bridge the gap between genomic risk loci of brain illnesses and neurobiological mechanisms by decoding the regulatory relationships of the human genome. The lab’s vision is that decoding the gene regulation can advance the understanding of neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases.

The lab’s research leverages genetic and genomic tools to identify the underlying neurobiological mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the lab strives to translate biological insights from basic research into the clinic.

The research approach lays at the intersection between computational biology, molecular biology and stem cell biology, with massively parallel perturbations. This integrative approach allows the lab to interrogate the versatile and interconnected function of genes, cells and tissues, going from a system-level view to specific molecular mechanisms.

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Now recruiting!

We are recruiting postdocs, graduate students and visiting scholars with backgrounds in:

  1. Computer science with experience in omics data processing
  2. Molecular biology with experience in genome editing
  3. Stem cell biology with experience in differentiation of human iPS cells to functional neurons and microglia

Master’s and PhD Program

Dr. Ma is currently serving as faculty in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) Graduate Program and the Biomedical Engineering (BME) program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

He serves on the following IBMS disciplines:

  1. Neuroscience
  2. Cell Biology, Genetics, and Molecular Medicine
  3. Physiology and Pharmacology.

Students who are interested in studying brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, are welcomed to apply.

Students will obtain training on bioinformatics, large data analysis, gene editing and modeling disease using human induced pluripotent stem cells derived brain cell types (e.g., neuron).

Lab members

Liang Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Department of Pharmacology at UT Health San Antonio, earned his PhD degree in Human Genetics from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in the laboratory of Yong-Gang Yao, PhD. As a graduate student, Dr. Ma’s research focused on identifying genomic variants associated with increased schizophrenia risk using a large independent homogenous Han Chinese cohort. He evaluated Han Chinese GWASs, CREB1 signal pathways and a mitochondria gene.
He performed his postdoctoral work at the Lieber Institute at Johns Hopkins medical campus under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Weinberger and Dr. Joel Kleinman, where he identified SNX19 by incorporating multi-omics data generated from over 400 postmortem brains. Then, he moved to Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. Sundari Chetty, where he determined CYP2D6.

Email: mal1@uthscsa.edu

Twitter: @LiangMa2017

Luis Aguirre, BS, is a research assistant focusing on brain omics data analysis at the Ma lab. He received his master’s degree in Bioinformatics and his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso. His master projects revolve around assisting advancing our understanding of rotifer phylogeny, where he developed a Python pipeline to automate the genome assembly process and developed a GenBank sequence retriever tool that facilitates rotifer phylogeny studies.



Yaning Tang, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, received his PhD in Genetics at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is interested in the use of human iPSCs and genome editing technology to generate human brain disease models.


Chunming Liu, MS, summer intern, is a master’s student in Computer Science at the Fitchburg State University. Liu holds a master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She has previously worked as a study data reviewer at Center for Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health group at Tufts Medical Center and has also worked as a clinical researcher for phase III clinical trials on Acute Myeloid Leukemia with FLT3 genetic mutation.


Raisa Nkweteyim, BS, summer intern, completed her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Buea in Cameroon.  Nkweteyim is a master’s student in Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is an intern in the lab for the summer of 2021 and will be investigating the differential CpG sites between Alzheimer’s patients and healthy controls.


Jinghui Wang, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, earned her PhD at the Institute of Brain Science, Fudan University in 2020. During her time at Fudan University, she focused on exploring the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease . She joined WuXi App Tec as a senior Researcher from 2020 to 2021.


Hongbin Wang, MS, is a visiting scientist that received his Master’s degree at NanKai University College of Life Sciences. He has previously used gene editing methods to explore novel genes’ function and successfully verified their primary function from both in vivo and in vitro aspects in two models. He is now interested in using human iPS derived brain cells as a model to explore the mechanisms of novel disease-related genes.


Zhenbo Zhang, MS, visiting scientist, earned her master’s degree in basic medicine from Fudan University in 2018. Zhang received academic scholarships from Fudan University for three consecutive years and received the Xinyu scholarship from Fudan University in 2017. She joined WuXi AppTec’s New Drug R&D Department from 2018 to 2020 and won the department’s best Popularity award in 2018 and the monthly outstanding employee award in 2019.


Huanhuan Zhao, BS, intern, is a master’s student in Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at El Paso. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Central China Normal University. Her studies focused on investigating how genetic variants affect gene expression and further contribute to the risk of brain disease by leveraging large-scale datasets.

Email: hzhao2@miners.utep.edu

UT Health San Antonio
South Texas Research Facility, Room #294
84030 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229