Houng-Wei Tsai, PhD
Identification of molecular mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation of brain and behavior
I have been working within the field of neuroendocrinology, the study of interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, for almost 30 years. As an occupational therapy major in Taiwan, I was fascinated by the complexity of the human brain and its dysfunction linked to neurological disorders and mental illness. Despite my lack of experience, I decided to follow my passion for neuroscience research immediately after earning a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy and started my research career as a graduate student at National Taiwan University (M.S. in Physiology, 1989-1991), where I studied the neural mechanisms underlying the effects of aging on reproductive behavior and MPTP-induced locomotor impairment in male rats. Later on, I came to the United States to continue my graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (M.S. in Anatomy & Cell Biology, 1993-1996) and then the University of Kentucky (Ph.D. in Physiology, 1996-2001). Much of my graduate work at both schools focused on the interplay and feedback between the nervous system and sex steroids involved in the regulation of female reproductive function and behavior. After receiving my doctoral degree in Kentucky, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia (2001-2009), shifting my attention to investigate how ligand-independent transcriptional activation and proteasome-mediated degradation of estrogen receptors are coupled functionally and how sex steroids and their receptors involve epigenetic regulation of brain sexual differentiation via histone modifications. I am incredibly fortunate to have had amazing mentors, who have guided and inspired me throughout the process.
Besides my passion for research and knowledge, I also realized my love for exchanging knowledge with students, aiding them in developing their own research ideas and goals, and helping to shape the next generation of scholars and leaders after being a visiting faculty at Washington and Lee University (2008-2009). From that point forward, I decided to pursue a career in academia and was fortunate enough to obtain my current faculty position in physiology at California State University Long Beach, where I greatly enjoy my job every day because it is challenging, creative, and stimulating.
Office: Microbiology Building, Room 305G