New GDCB faculty member Hua Bai studies how animals age

How does our genetic makeup influence how we age? Professor Hua Bai has developed a genetic model system to explore this interesting and important question. Dr. Bai joined the GDCB department as a tenure-eligible assistant professor in January 2016. Dr. Bai received his B.S. in Biology from East China Normal University; his M.S. in Aquatic Biology from Shanghai Ocean University; and his Ph.D. in Entomology from University of Kentucky. This unique career trajectory equipped Dr. Bai with a breadth of scholarly training and diverse scientific perspectives. A common theme in Dr. Bai’s career path has been interest in hormonal and transcriptional regulatory networks affecting development and physiology in invertebrates.

Dr. Bai grew up with a boundless curiosity, and a career in science has provided him with the opportunity to continue to learn new things and to share that knowledge. After earning his PhD, Dr. Bai had intended to continue his research on insect development and metamorphosis, but Dr. Bai’s interests were redirected when he found that many developmental programs he studied during his PhD played important roles in aging and senescence. He chose to join Dr. Marc Tatar’s research group at Brown University to study the mechanisms that influence aging. “As one of the aging theories (Antagonistic pleiotropy) points out,” said Dr. Bai, “genes that benefit an individual early in development may be detrimental later in life. These genes or gene variants may be favored by natural selection over genes beneficial in late life. Now my curiosity about the mysteries of aging drives me to work in my own lab every day and every night.”

Dr. Bai’s wife, Ping Kang, has a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics, in addition to scholarly expertise in Biology and Education. Ping Kang is an assistant scientist in the GDCB Department, and she collaborates with Dr. Bai towards shared goals in aging research. They met while in college more than 20 years ago and began working together at Brown University. They have a very good working relationship and bring complimentary expertise to the research program at ISU. They also collaborate well at home, where Ping Kang likes to cook homemade noodles, while Dr. Bai offers his technical assistance in the kitchen.

Dr. Bai’s research group at ISU uses Drosophila genetics, genomics, behavior and imaging analysis to investigate aging-related questions. Next year, Dr. Bai will teach courses related to genetics and genomics, two powerful approaches that have been applied in advancing the field of biology and in transforming our lives. He would also like to teach special topics on aging-related research.