Rochester, Minnesota




Xiaolei Xu, Ph.D., directs the Zebrafish Genetics Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, where he and his colleagues study cardiac diseases using zebrafish as a vertebrate model. Dr. Xu's lab generated the first embryonic and adult zebrafish models for cardiomyopathies.

By leveraging unique genetic tools offered by zebrafish, Dr. Xu and his colleagues are using these models to elucidate molecular mechanisms of cardiomyopathy and develop novel therapeutic strategies.

Focus areas

  • Discover genetic modifiers of cardiomyopathy via zebrafish genetics. By conducting a pilot transposon-based insertional mutagenesis screen, Dr. Xu's lab proved the feasibility of identifying cardiomyopathy modifiers via a forward genetics approach. His lab is expanding the screen to discover novel genes and signaling pathways that modify the pathogenesis of cardiomyopathy. The goal is to identify modifier genes with therapeutic capacity, which would facilitate the development of new mechanism-based therapeutic strategies.
  • Develop precision medicine for cardiomyopathies. Using genome editing technology, Dr. Xu's lab is generating zebrafish models for cardiomyopathies of different etiologies. Novel phenotyping tools are being developed to discern pathogenesis among these models. Both unique and common genetic modifiers are being identified, with the aim of discovering targeted therapies for each type of cardiomyopathy. A zebrafish-mouse drug screen platform has been developed that will aid the translation of these therapeutic strategies from bench to bedside.

Significance to patient care

By generating cardiomyopathy models in zebrafish, Dr. Xu's lab aims to develop novel mechanism-based therapeutics for cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Professional highlights

  • Editorial board member, Frontiers in Physiology, 2021-present
  • Editorial board member, JACC: Asia, 2021-present
  • Editorial board member, PLOS One, 2011-present
  • Fellow, American Heart Association, 2011-present
  • Member, Cardiac Contractility, Hypertrophy, and Failure Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2015-2019


Academic Rank

  1. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  2. Associate Professor of Medicine


  1. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - Cardiovascular Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School
  2. PhD - Developmental Genetics Brookdale Center for Developmental & Molecular Biology, Mount Sinai Medical Center
  3. MS - Genetics Institute of Genetics, Fudan University
  4. BS - Genetics Department of Genetics & Genetic Engineering, Fudan University

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