Zhen Huang

Zhen Huang Prof Pic
Associate Professor, Departments of Neurology & Neuroscience
(608) 263-2469


Ph.D. Harvard University

Research Focus:

Neural and vascular development and disease of the cerebral cortex

Research Strengths:

Development, Plasticity and Repair; Molecular Neuroscience; Neurobiology of Disease

Research Description:

My lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms of several aspects of the development of the cerebral cortex, including cortical neuron migration and positioning as well as neural regulation of blood vessel development. We are also interested in diseases where these processes are affected.

Cortical neuron migration and laminar assembly
To investigate mechanisms underlying laminar organization of the cortex, we focus on the question of how the generation and migration of neurons and glia are regulated and coordinated. We employ mouse genetics approaches and use tissue specific gene knockout technology to answer this question. Among the genes of interest to us is ric-8a, a gene involved in G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling. We have found that mutation in this gene results in cobblestone lissencephaly-like malformation in the cerebral cortex as well as lobule formation defects in the cerebellum. One of our goals is to use this mutation as an entry point to gain new insights into how cell-cell communication coordinates the process of brain development.

Blood vessel development in the brain
To understand how blood vessel development in the brain is regulated, we focus on interactions between neural and vascular cells. Specifically, we have found that radial glia, neural progenitor cells in the developing brain, play an unexpected role in regulating the stabilization of nascent blood vessels. In the absence of radial glia, newly formed blood vessels in the cortex become destabilized and eventually undergo regression. One of our goals is to determine the identity of the signal(s) involved as well as the vascular genes regulated by radial glia. We are also interested in whether and how these genes may be involved in and contribute to brain neurovascular diseases.


Please see PubMed for most recent publications