Lei Gao

George Mason University School of Business Faculty Lei Gao
Titles and Organizations

Associate Professor, Finance

Contact Information

Email: lgao9@gmu.edu
Phone: (703) 993-6806
Office Location: Enterprise Hall 328
Office Hours: By appointment

Personal Websites


Lei Gao is an associate professor within the Finance Area in the School of Business at George Mason University, where he teaches courses on corporate finance, investments, and empirical methods in finance. Dr. Gao has taught at University of Georgia, Michigan State University, University of Memphis, and Iowa State University. Dr. Gao is an active member of the American Finance Association and Financial Management Association. His research interests include market structure, investments, lending, corporate finance, and FinTech. His research has been published at top journals such as the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of USA (PNAS), Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), and Journal of Corporate Finance (JCF) among others. Dr. Gao's research has been featured at national news media, including Washington Post, Financial Times, Bloomberg, NBC, CNN, and academic press, including ASSA, etc. His publication at PNAS about Fair Lending is ranked by Financial Times as #15 in its "Top 100 Business School Research with Social Impact" globally. Dr. Gao has given a speech at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) about fair lending. He has also been invited to be an expert witness before the U.S. Congress and his research has been the base for the testimony. His publication at JFE about "Market Intraday Momentum" is one of the most downloaded papers at SSRN in concurrent research. His research about short selling regulation at JCF has been featured in Cato Institute Research Briefs. Dr. Gao has been a Financial Economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where he provides economics analysis and memos to support the Commission's enforcement and regulation, Protecting investors; maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets; facilitating capital formation. Dr. Gao earned a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Georgia, an M.S. in Industrial Math from Michigan State University, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Peking University. 

Dr. Gao has served as a reviewer for the NSF CAREER Award and top academic journals, including American Economic Review: Insights, Management Science, Review of Finance, Journal of Corporate Finance, and Journal of Business Ethics etc. Dr. Gao has delivered many presentations and talks at academics conferences, University seminars, Governments, and research institutions. 

Research Interests 

  • Market Structure 
  • Investments 
  • Corporate Finance 
  • FinTech/Big Data 


  • Ph.D., Finance, University of Georgia, Athens, GA  
  • M.S., Industrial Mathematics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 
  • B.S.,  Computer Science, Peking University 

Teaching Interests 

  • Corporate Finance 
  • Investments 
  • Empirical Methods in Finance 
  • Security Analysis and Portfolio Management 

Research and Awards 


  • Outstanding Paper Award Eastern Finance Association(EFA) 
  • Best Paper Award Semi Finalist Financial Management Association  
  • Best Paper Award Finalist Financial Management Association Asia Pacific 
  • US SEC IPA Grant 
  • US Census CPRDC Research Grant 
  • Principal Financial Faculty Professional Development Grant 
  • Research Acceleration Grant 
  • Summer Research Grant 

Working Papers

  • A. Elnahas, L. Gao, N. Hossain, and JB Kim, "CEO Political orientation and the information disclosure", Link to Paper, Revise and Resubmit, (AFA 2022) 
  • Wesley Deng, Lei Gao, Bo Hu, and Guofu Zhou, "Seeing is Believing: Annual Report 'Graphicity' and Stock Returns Predictability",  Link to Paper; Under Review 
  • L. Gao, C. Jiang, and M. Mohamed, "Count on your subordinates: Executives' horizons and innovation", 3rd Round  

Published Research

Dr. Gao’s scholarly papers can be accessed here.

  • "Evaluation of individual and ensemble probabilistic forecasts of COVID-19 mortality in the US”, with Cramer et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, (PNAS); forthcoming; 
  • "Standing out from the Crowd via Corporate Goodness: Evidence from a Natural Experiment." (Media Coverage: Harvard Law School Forum), with J. He and J. Wu, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, conditionally accepted;
  • "Lending practices to same-sex borrowers," has been circulated as "The Rainbow of Credit: Same-sex Mortgage Discrimination and Two-sided Spillover Effect", with H. Sun (2019), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, (PNAS);  (2018);  Paper Link ( media coverage: AEA / ASSA Video, HUD, Washington Post,  NBC, Bloomberg, Iowa State, EurekAlert, Fortune, CNN, The Salt Lake Tribune, ABC) 
  • "Market Intraday Momentum",  with Yufeng Han, Sophia Li, and Guofu Zhou (2018), Journal of Financial Economics, Link to Paper  
  • "Short Selling and Stock Price Crash Risk: Causal Evidence from a Natural Experiment," has been circulated as "The Pathogen, Scapegoat, or a Miracle Drug? Short Selling and Stock Price Crash Risk." with Xiaohu Deng and Jeong-Bon Kim (2020), (Media Coverage: Oxford Business Law OBLB, reprinted in Cato Institute Research Briefs in Economics Policy)", Journal of Corporate Finance,  Link to Paper 
  • "Does Local Religiosity Affect Organizational Risk-Taking? Evidence from the Hedge Fund Industry", with Ying Wang, and Jing Zhao (2017), Journal of Corporate Finance, (Lead Article); Eastern Finance Association (EFA) Outstanding Paper Award, Link to Paper (Media Coverage: Science X, EurekAlert, phys.org) 
  • "Peer Firms’ Earnings Predictability and Pricing Efficiency—Evidence from IPOs", with Zabihollah Rezaee and Ji Yu (2020), European Journal of Finance,  
  • "Return Predictability: The Dual Signaling Hypothesis of Stock Splits", with Ahmed Elnahas and Ghada Ismail (2019), The Financial Review