Juan Song, PhD

Assistant Professor

Research Description

Adult neurogenesis occurs in unique microenvironment (niche) and recapitulates the complete neural developmental process in a mature central nervous system, including proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor/stem cells, neuronal development and synapse formation, maturation and maintenance. Our primary research interest is to identify the mechanisms that regulate neural circuit organization and function at distinct stages of adult neurogenesis, and to understand how circuit-level information-processing properties are remodeled by the integration of new neurons into existing circuits and how disregulation of this process may contribute to various neurological and mental disorders.

Our long-range goals are to translate general principles governing neural network function into directions relevant for understanding neurological and psychiatric diseases. Therefore, research focuses in my laboratory are to investigate molecular and circuitry mechanisms underlying activity-dependent regulation of different phases of adult neurogenesis, from quiescent neural stem cells to developing newborn neurons, and to investigate how new neurons contribute to neural networks, both with respect to circuitry and behavior, in healthy and various disease states. We believe that the exquisite specificity of established optogenetic approaches will enable us to gain insight into the interplay between network activity and neuronal development and to understand the influence of genetic risk factors on circuit establishment and function. Ultimately, mimicking basic features crucial for normal circuit function and niche establishment may contribute to novel strategies directed toward understanding the deficits associated with neurological and mental disorders. We are addressing these questions using a combination of cutting-edge technologies and approaches, including optogenetics, high-resolution microscopy, in vitro and in vivoelectrophysiology, genetic lineage tracing and molecular biology.

The Song lab is currently recruiting motivated postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, research associates, and undergraduates.

Selected Publications

Zhou M, Li W, Huang S, Song J, Kim JY, Tian X, Kang E, Liu C, Balaji J, Zhou Y, Parivash SN, Zhou Y, Ehninger D, He L, Song H, Ming GL, Silva AJ (2013) mTOR inhibition ameliorates cognitive and affective deficits caused by Disc1 knockdown specifically in adult-born dentate granule neurons. Neuron 77(4):647-54. PMID: 23439118

Song J, Zhong C, Bonaguidi MA, Sun G, Hsu D, Gu Y, Meletis K, Huang J, Ge S, Enikolopov G, Deisseroth K, Luscher B, Christian K, Ming GL, Song H (2012). Neuronal circuitry mechanism regulating adult quiescent neural stem-cell fate decision. Nature 489: 150-154 (Featured in Cell Stem Cell, Nat Rev Neurosci, BioEssays, F1000 must read). PMID: 22842902

Song J, Christian K, Ming GL, Song H (2012). Life or death: developing cortical interneurons make their own decision. EMBO J 31(23):4373-4. Paper

Song J*, Christian K, Ming GL, Song H (2012). Modification of hippocampal circuitry by adult neurogenesis. Dev Neurbiol. 72(7):1032-43 (*: corresponding author). PMID: 22354697