Chao received his Bacheor of Optics at the Institute of Physics, Nankai University (NKU). After he graduated, Chao completed one year of research at the Department of Optics, NKU. In 2007, he reallocated to Australia and in 2008 he received his Masters of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne. During this period, he developed a keen interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and finished his Masters research project on optimising an EPI sequence (Echo Planar Image) on a Bruker system, supervised by Professor Gary Egan. After he gained his Masters Degree, he was employed by Howard Florey Institute, and continued working with the Neuroimaging Team at the animal MRI facility, led by Professor Egan.
Chao commenced his PhD in 2009 at the School of Psychiatry, UNSW, under the supervision of Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela. After moving from animal to human MRI, his area of research now focuses on the longitudinal change cross multiple MRI modalities – structural MRI, MR spectroscopy and resting-state functional MRI. His projects include: training-induced brain changing on structural and functional MRI; quantifying in vivo neurogenesis using MR spectroscopy (1.28ppm peak); lifetime cognitive lifestyle and preservation of brain structure and function. During the past years his studies have resulted in several journal publications, a book chapter and conference proceedings in the areas of optics, lighting, computational modeling, image processing, animal MRI and medicine.