Tou Yia attended the University of California, Davis as an undergraduate and earned a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (NPB) in 2003. He obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2010 from the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Yasushi Nakagawa to study the role of Sonic hedgehog signaling in regulating thalamic nuclei cell fate specification and the influence of thalamocortical axons on neurocortical area formation. Tou Yia then pursued a postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Jane E. Johnson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas. As a postdoc, Tou Yia’s research focused on the function of transcription factors in regulating glial development and heterogeneity in gray matter and white matter of the central nervous system, as well as glioma brain tumor development using transgenic mouse models. In 2017, he started his own research laboratory in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, where he is also a faculty in the New Mexico Alcohol Research Center (NMARC) and an associate member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Areas of Specialty

Transcription factor function
Transgenic mouse models
Glial cell fate specification, migration, and differentiation
Glioma formation, progression, and invasion


Post-Doc, Neuroscience (2017):
University of Texas Southwestern Medical center
Dallas, TX

PhD, Neuroscience (2010):
University of Minnesota
Minneanpolis, MN

BS, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (2003):
University of California Davis
Sacramento, CA

Achievements & Awards

  • K Award (K22 NS092767, NINDS) UT Southwestern - 2015-2020
  • NRSA Award (F32 CA168330, NCI) UT Southwestern - 2012-2015
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Minnesota - 2009
  • Diversity of Views & Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship, University of Minnesota - 2005

Key Publications

  • *Vue, TY., Kollipara, R., Borromeo, MD., Smith, T., Mashimo, T., Burns, DK., Bachoo, RM., and Johnson, JE. ASCL1 regulates neurodevelopmental transcription factors and cell cycle genes in brain tumors of glioma mouse models. GLIA 2020: DOI: 10.1002/glia.23873. PMID: 32573857.
  • Kelenis, DP., Hart, E., Edwards-Fligner, M., Johnson, JE., and Vue, TY*. ASCL1 regulates proliferation of NG2-glia in the embryonic and adult spinal cord. GLIA 2018; 1-19. DOI: 10.1002/glia.23344. PMID: 29683222.
  • Vue, TY., Kim, EJ., Parras, C., Guillemot, F., and Johnson, JE. Ascl1 controls the number and distribution of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the grey matter and white matter of the spinal cord. Development 2014 141(19):3721-31. doi:10.1242/dev.105270. PMID: 25249462.
  • Vue, TY., Lee, M., Tan, YE., Werkhoven, Z., Wang, L., and Nakagawa, Y. Thalamic control of neocortical area formation in mice. Journal of Neuroscience 2013 33(19):8442-8453. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5786-12.2013. PMID: 23658181.
  • Vue, TY., Bluske, K., Alishahi, A., Yang, LL., Koyano-Nakagawa, N., Novitch, B., and Nakagawa, Y. Sonic Hedgehog Signaling Controls Thalamic Progenitor Identity and Nuclei Specification in Mice. Journal of Neuroscience 2009 29(14):4484-4497. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0656-09.2009. PMID: 19357274.
  • Vue, TY., Aaker, J., Taniguchi, A., Kazemzadeh, C., Skidmore, JM., Martin, DM., Martin, JF., Treier, M., and Nakagawa, Y. Characterization of progenitor domains in the developing mouse thalamus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 2007 505: 73-91. DOI:10.1002/cne.21467. PMID: 17729296.

    * Denotes corresponding authorship


He, Him


  • Hmong, English


Research in the Vue Lab aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the development and function of glial cells (astrocyte and oligodendrocytes) in the CNS. Current research programs utilize transgenic mouse strategies combined with genome wide analyses (Ribo-TAG, single cell and bulk RNA-seq, and ChIP-seq) to elucidate the function of genes in regulating glial cell fate specification, migration, proliferation, and differentiation in gray matter and white matter regions in the brain and spinal cord. The long-term goal of our work is to gain a better understanding of how glial cells contribute to brain function, and how glial cells are developmentally and functionally altered in the context of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and in deadly cancer such as glioblastomas.

Courses Taught

  • Neuroanatomy Lab
  • Neuropathology Lab