Mao Genes

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MAO in Neurobiology & Cancer

Cancer in Mice

Gene Regulation

Learn about gene regulation as
a mechanism for protein production

Studies have demonstrated the
impact of MAO on human behavior

Serotonin and why is it important

Research objectives in the Shih Laboratory are to understand the roles of neurotransmitters on gene expression, signal transduction behaviors and ultimately diseases. They are studying the role of serotonin and dopamine in neuronal development, regulation of transcription factors in a series of monoamine oxidase (MAO) gene knock-out mice, which are animal models for anxiety, aggression and autistic-like-behavior and aggression. Recently, they showed these gene knockout mice also slowed down the progression and metastasis of prostate and brain cancers Thus provides unique animal models to study the interaction between tumors and microenvironment. Currently, Shih Lab used these KO mice model to develop novel targets for the treatment and early diagnosis of autistic-like behaviors and prostate and brain cancer.


Dr. Shih received her B.S. in biochemistry from the National Taiwan University, where she graduated as the valedictorian. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from a joint program at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Shih continued as a postdoctoral research fellow at UCLA and, in 1974, she joined the School of Pharmacy faculty at USC.

She is currently a University Professor and holds the Boyd and Elsie Welin endowed chair. She has received numerous honors: She received two Research Scientist Awards and two MERIT awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), each providing a 10-year support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior and who are likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner. The MERIT award is given to the top 1% investigators of the country. She is a Fellow of Academia Sinica, Taiwan; Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; a recipient of the Volwiler Research Achievement Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP); USC Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship; among many others. A Distinguish Series Kaiser Lecturer at University of Hawaii.

Dr. Shih is a member of the NIH study sections (Psycho Clinical Biology, 1984-88; Neurobiology, 1990-94; NICHD Mental Retardation Committee, 1997-2001). She is also a member of the International Brain Research Committee of the National Academy of Sciences (1995-2000). She is a current member and past president of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (2002-2004). She is a mentor of American. NIH Director and Pioneer Award review committee (2011-2014).

She is the founding Director of Center for USC–Taiwan Translational Research. Center scientists are exploring new cancer therapies that target monoamine oxidase using a collaborative approach among Pacific Rim partners. At the 15th International Symposium of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) held on June 28, 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan, she co-chaired a session focusing on promising new leads in the fight against cancer, autism and cardiovascular diseases aiming to develop pharmaceuticals that target monoamine oxidase (MAO), a key enzyme that regulates brain function and may be linked to cancer risk.