Gerald Pao

Gerald Pao
Assistant Professor

PhD Molecular Biology & Virology, University of California, San Diego/ Salk Institute

BS Biology, University of California, San Diego


Dr. Gerald Pao worked originally on the molecular evolution of proteins from a structural and computational perspective as an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego working with Milton H. Saier, Joseph Kraut, Flossie Wong-Staal, Russell F Doolittle and Tony Hunter. From there he went on to be mainly an experimentalist to study the epigenetics of cancer and stem cells and the development of viral vectors for basic science at the Salk institute during his PhD and postdoc with Inder M Verma. Work on stem cells led him to study the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) salamander during limb regeneration at the Salk Institute and UC Irvine with David Gardiner and Tony Hunter. This was followed by a change of field through a postdoctoral training period in applied mathematics and data science specializing in nonlinear dynamics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in the climate atmospheric sciences and physical oceanography (CASPO) department with George Sugihara. After becoming a staff scientist at the Salk institute, he continued work on nonlinear dynamics mainly on causal inference in systems neuroscience and systems biology. He was also a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) of the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) in the Information Technology Reseach Institute (ITRI) and the Artificial Intelligence Research Center (AIRC) to make the computational methods in empiric dynamic modeling suitable for Big Data and high performance computing (HPC) using Japan’s second fastest supercomputer ABCI. In addition to this work Dr. Pao identified, cloned and developed cephalopod reflectin proteins from various squid species for the manipulation of the optical refractive index in vivo in mammals. Before joining OIST he had a two year stint in industry as a research director for high throughput screening data science and gene therapy at Vertex pharmaceuticals, a Fortune 500 company. 

Professional Experience

  • Research Fellow (Scientific Track Director) Vertex Pharmaceuticals, USA
  • Staff Scientist, Salk Institute, CA USA
  • Visiting Scientist, National institute for industrial science and technology (AIST), Japan
  • Visiting Scientist/Senior research associate, Scripps Institution of Oceanography/Salk Institute CA USA
  • Postdoc Applied mathematics; Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD with George Sugihara
  • Postdoc Stem Cell Biology, developmental neuroscience, regeneration and Epigenetics; Salk Institute with Inder Verma


  • Addgene Blue Flame Award, for the distribution of SARS-CoV2 Spike protein reagents to >250 labs (2020)
  • Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind. Downloading a Brain into a Robot ($50,000 U.S.) (2019)
  • Salk Jacobs innovation grant. Control a robot with a Brain ($100,000 U.S.) with S. Chalasani (2019)
  • AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure(ABCI) Grand Challenge award (2018)
  • W.M. Keck Foundation medical research grant ($1,200,000 U.S. 3 years) (2017)
  • Roche Pharmaceuticals 1Gigabase award 1st Prize (100,000+ $ U.S. in sequencing services) (2007)
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Fellowship (2006)

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