Dr. Y. Henry Sun

Y. Henry Sun, Ph.D.

Joint Appointment Distinguished Investigator & Director
Institute of Molecular and Genomic Medicine


Ph.D., Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, USA (1986)
B.S., Dept. of Botany, National Taiwan University (1978)


01/2021 – Adjunct Distinguished Investigator & Director,
Institute of Molecular and Genomic Medicine, NHRI
05/2006 – Distinguished Research Fellow
Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
07/1999 – 05/2006 Research Fellow
Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
08/2000 – 07/2002 Research Fellow and Deputy Director
Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
02/1988 – 06/1999 Associate Research Fellow
Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
02/1986 – 02/1988 Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Biology, Yale University, USA
09/2016 – 12/2019 Executive Secretary,
The Central Academic Advisory Committee, Academia Sinica
01/2015 – 12/2016 Coordinator,
Neuroscience Program, Ministry of Science and Technology
05/2012 – 03/2014 Deputy Minister,
National Science Council
09/2008 – 01/2012 Deputy Executive Secretary,
The Central Advisory Committee, Academia Sinica
12/2008 – 12/2009 Acting Director,
Scientific Instrument Center, Academia Sinica
09/2007 – 09/2008 Visiting Associate (Prof. Eric Davidson’s lab)
Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology
09/2006 – 07/2007 Distinguished Chair Professor
Department of Life Sciences, Tung-Hai University
01/2006 – 12/2007 Chair, Study Section in Biology
National Science Council
11/2000 – 07/2004 Coordinator
Developmental Biology Graduate Program, National Yang-Ming University
02/2000 – 08/2000 Visiting Scholar (Prof. William McGinnis’ lab)
Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, USA
08/2000 – Adjunct Professor
Department of Biological Sciences/Graduate Institute of Genetics
National Yang-Ming University
09/1988 – 08/2000 Adjunct Associate Professor
Graduate Institute of Genetics, National Yang-Ming University


Merit Research Grant, Ministry of Science and Technology, 2018-2021

Frontier Science Grant, National Science Council, 1999-2004, 2004-2009, 2009-2014

Chin-Tuei Ho Excellence Award, 2009

Academic Award, Ministry of Education, 2008

National Science Council Research Excellence Award, 2000, 2004

National Science Council Research Award, Class A, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

Young Investigator Research Award, Academia Sinica, 1999

Elected Member of Asia-Pacific IMBN (International Molecular Biology Network), 1999

Best Poster Award, Chinese Society of Genetics, 1997


Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Drosophila Visual System Development

My lab is interested in the molecular mechanism controlling the development of the visual system in Drosophila. We are primarily studying (1) specification of the eye fate and its segregation from antenna fate, (2) neuron-glia interaction, and (3) ingrowth of tracheal into the growing eye.

The Drosophila eye and antenna arise from a single epithelium disc called the eye-antennal imaginal disc. Genes specifying the eye fate and antenna fate have been identified. We are studying the mechanism for subdividing this disc into distinct eye and antennal field, the interaction between the two parts, and the establishment and maintenance of their boundary.

We are also studying the interaction between the eye and the brain, specifically the interaction between the photoreceptor neurons and glia cells from the brain, including glia in the optic lobe of the brain and the retinal basal glia (RBGs) that migrate from the brain into the eye disc. We are studying the mechanisms regulating the proliferation, survival, migration and distribution of the glia within the visual system, and also their effects on photoreceptor development and functions. We also found that the adult photoreceptors send a survival signal to the optic lamina in the brain to maintain the survival of glia in its target field.

As the eye grows larger, the need for oxygen increases. We found that trachea extends into the growing eye during the pupal stage. The retinal cells secret a FGF ligand to induce the ingrowth of trachea. We are investigating the molecular mechanism regulating this process, and its relationship to hypoxia.


  1. Tsao, C.-K., Huang, Y. F., and Sun, Y. H.* (2020) Early lineage segregation of the retinal basal glia in the Drosophila eye disc. Scientific Reports 10:18522
  2. Chang, L.-W., L.-W., Tseng, I-C., Wang, L.-H.* and Sun, Y. H.* (2020) Isoform-specific functions of an evolutionarily conserved 3 bp micro-exon alternatively spliced from another exon in Drosophila homothorax gene. Scientific Reports 10:12783. (co-corresponding author)
  3. Singh, A.*, Gogia, N., Chang, C.-Y., Sun, Y. H.* (2019) Proximal fate marker homothorax marks the lateral extension of stalk-eyed fly Cyrtodopsis whitei. Genesis, e23309 DOI: 10.1002/dvg.23309. (co-corresponding author)
  4. Chang, Y.-C., Tsao C.-K. and Sun, Y. H.* (2018) Temporal and spatial order of photoreceptor and glia projections into optic lobe in Drosophila. Scientific Reports, 8:12669 DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-30415-8.
  5. Yeh, P.-A., Chu, W.-C., Liu, J.-Y. and Sun, Y. H.* (2018) Glial expression of disease-associated poly-glutamine proteins impairs the blood-brain barrier in Drosophila. Human Mol. Genet. 27:2546–2562.
  6. Ku, H.-Y. and Sun, Y. H.* (2017) Notch-Dependent Epithelial Fold Determines Boundary Formation Between Developmental Fields in the Drosophila Antenna. PLoS Genetics 13(7): e1006898.
  7. Huang, Y. S., Ku, H. Y., Tsai, Y. C., Chang, C. H., Pao, S. H., Sun, Y. H.* and Chiou, A.* (2017) 5D imaging via light sheet microscopy reveals cell dynamics during the eye-antenna disc primordium formation in Drosophila. Scientific Reports, 7:44945.  (co-corresponding author)
  8. Lee, Y.-M. and Sun, Y. H.* (2015) Drosophila as a model to study role of glia in neurodegeneration. J. Neurogenet, 27:1-11.
  1. Lee, Y.-M. and Sun, Y. H.* (2015) Maintenance of Glia in Optic Lamina by EGFR Signal Provided by Photoreceptors in Adult Drosophila. PLoS Genetics, 11(4): e1005187.
  2. Wang, C.-W. and Sun, Y. H.* (2012) Segregation of eye and antenna fates maintained by mutual antagonism in Drosophila. Development 139:3413-3421.

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