Huiqing (Jo) Zhou


Proper development of the embryo requires orchestrated regulation of gene expression in a temporal and spatial manner. Disruption of gene regulation during embryonic development leads to developmental disorders. My research program aims at elucidating molecular mechanisms underlying cell fate decisions in development and related disease, using systems biology approaches. In addition, my team applies the molecular insights for stem cell manipulation, tissue regeneration, disease genetics and therapeutic development. Three major research lines within my research theme:

1) understand cell fate determination of epithelial development and disease;

2) develop complex tissue models to dissect cell fate determination;

3) dissect disease mechanisms and explore therapeutic options for these diseases.

Several patient-derived stem cell models are established in my team: induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can be differentiated into disease-relevant lineages, and adult epidermal stem cells and corneal limbal stem cells. Using these patient-derived model systems and state-of-the-art epigenomics approaches, my group identifies gene regulatory networks including genes and regulatory elements that control normal developmental processes and de-regulated circuitries that are relevant to diseases. These studies are to elucidate disease mechanisms and inspire new ideas for disease-curing strategies.


Jo Huiqing Zhou obtained her PhD in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on transcriptional regulation of a proto-oncogene EWS. In 2002 she joined Department of Molecular Biology at Radboud University Nijmegen as a postdoctoral fellow, working on transcriptional regulation by basal transcription factors. In 2007 she joined Department of Human Genetics at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre as a senior postdoctoral fellow and later as an independent group leader, working on gene regulatory networks of p63-related disorders and establishing several patient-derived disease models. In 2012 she established her research group at the Department of Molecular Developmental Biology at Radboud University Nijmegen, with the research theme on understanding gene regulation in developmental disorders. As a group leader also affiliated with Department of Human Genetics, she uses patient-derived stem cell models as the major model systems to study disease mechanisms.



    • European Joint Program Rare Disease (EJP RD) Joint transnational Call (JTC2020) (2021-2024) €1,403,088.00 (total for the consortium) for 3 years. Co-PI. Aniridia – Novel therapeutic tools to treat or prevent progressive cornea opacification (AAK-INSIGHT).
    • Health Holland PPP program Human measurement models (2020-2024) € 966,332 for 4 years. Co-PI with Dr. van den Bogaard. Platform for Alternative Skin Tests for sustainable FUTURE science (PAST4FUTURE).
    • Radboudumc RIMLS PhD project (2019-2023), € 250,000 for 4 years. Co-PI with Dr. van den Bogaard. Old drug in a new jacket: leflunomide as AHR ligand for inflammatory skin diseases.
    • NWO-ALW Open Competition (ALWOP376) (2018-2021) € 273,000 for 4 years. A matter of identity: master regulator p63-orchestrated transcription factor circuitry in the epithelial cell fate determination of normal development and disease.

International consortium

  • COST Action: ANIRIDIA-NET, CA18116
    (management committee member)