null Yong Rao, PhD

Senior Scientist, RI-MUHC, Montreal General Hospital site

Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program

Centre for Translational Biology

Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University

Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, MUHC



axon guidance • tiling • circuit development • aggression

Research Focus

My research focuses on neuronal circuit formation. Normal brain function relies on proper formation of neural networks during embryonic development. My lab has chosen the powerful genetic model system Drosophila melanogaster to study neuronal circuit development, which has led to the identification of a number of evolutionarily conserved genes. These studies are not only essential for understanding the fundamental biology of circuit development, but also provide invaluable clues for the development of new therapeutic strategies aimed at regenerating functional circuits following nerve injuries in patients. My second area of interest is the neural basis of aggression. One key question in Neuroscience is how animal behaviors are controlled at molecular and cellular levels. Aggression is an important behavior evolutionarily conserved in animals. My lab's recent work has led to the identification of several genes that regulate aggressive behaviors. We are now focusing on understanding the exact action of these genes in the control of aggression.

Selected Publications

Click on Pubmed to see my current publications list

  • Cameron S, Chang WT, Chen Y, Zhou Y, Taran S, Rao Y. Visual circuit assembly requires fine tuning of the novel Ig transmembrane protein borderless. J Neurosci. 2013 Oct 30;33(44):17413-21. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1878-13.2013.

  • Zhou Y, Cameron S, Chang WT, Rao Y. Control of directional change after mechanical stimulation in Drosophila. Mol Brain. 2012 Oct 29;5:39. doi: 10.1186/1756-6606-5-39.

  • Fernandes C, Rao Y. Genome-wide screen for modifiers of Parkinson's disease genes in Drosophila. Mol Brain. 2011 Apr 19;4:17. doi: 10.1186/1756-6606-4-17.

  • Yu L, Zhou Y, Cheng S, Rao Y. Plexin a-semaphorin-1a reverse signaling regulates photoreceptor axon guidance in Drosophila. J Neurosci. 2010 Sep 8;30(36):12151-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1494-10.2010.

  • Zhou C, Rao Y, Rao Y. A subset of octopaminergic neurons are important for Drosophila aggression. Nat Neurosci. 2008 Sep;11(9):1059-67. doi: 10.1038/nn.2164.