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Tzung Fu Hsieh

Associate Professor, Systems Biologist, Epigenetics

Plants for Human Health Institute


Area(s) of Expertise

Systems Biology, Epigenetics, Endosperm Development

Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh joined the institute in August 2012 and coordinates a research program centered on the biological systems of flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables. Hsieh specializes in systems biology, a relatively new field of research that studies the interactions between the components of biological systems, and how those relationships impact the functions and behaviors of the systems. His area of focus is epigenetics, which aims to understand changes in gene behaviors that are caused by factors other than mutations in DNA.

Hsieh studies the development of endosperms, which play a critical role in human nutrition and health, accounting for more than 75 percent of the world’s food supply, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Cereal crops like corn, rice and wheat – some of the most widely produced crops in the world – are harvested for their grains, which are mostly endosperm. Hsieh is working to better understand endosperm development, including the role imprinted genes play.

Using systems biology approaches, Hsieh and colleagues have already identified certain epigenetics processes as critical regulators for plant reproduction and endosperm development. His studies will provide new opportunities for investigating how the environment can exert influences on plants through epigenetic changes. Ultimately, Hsieh would like to collaborate with N.C. Research Campus partners using the techniques he and colleagues have developed to decipher how plant epigenetics may impact human health. He also researches how epigenetics regulates the production of plant secondary metabolites.

Watch a video introduction of Dr. Hsieh and his research.

Lab Personnel:

Changqing Zhang, Senior Researcher

Mingzhuo Li, Postdoctoral Associate

Qirui (Cary) Cui, Graduate Student


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Ph.D., Texas A&M University
B.S., National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan