Xu Zhiheng, M.D., Ph.D.  

Telephone: 010-64806581

Research Areas

Brain development and associated diseases

Establishment of the mammalian neocortex requires precise control of proliferation and self-renewal of neural progenitor cells (NPCs), as well as the differentiation of NPCs and neuronal migration. Defects in these processes lead to brain disorders including primary autosomal recessive microcephaly (MCPH), autism and schizophrenia. During cortical development, the balance between symmetric and asymmetric cell division of NPCs determines the NPC pool size for ongoing neurogenesis and ultimately brain size. In addition, the proper development of axon and dendrites and the formation of synapses are essential for the normal function of the brain. We aim to understand the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of brain development, with particular interests in the regulations of neural progenitor cell and neuronal development. Taking the advantage of our background in signal transduction and the generation of various genetic modified mouse models, we are trying to explore the basic mechanism of brain development as well as brain diseases including neurodegenerative disease (Fahr’s disease), MCPH, mental retardation, autism and schizophrenia.


4/1999    Ph. D., Waksman Institute, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.

7/1989   M.D., Department of Medicine, the Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


Work Experience

2005-pres:       Senior principle investigator, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

2003-2005:    Postdoc/Research Associate Scientist, Department of Pathology & Center of Neurobiology and Behavior. Columbia University, New York

1993-1999:       Waksman Institute, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Teaching Experience

Honors & Distinctions

Distinguished Young Investigator Award. National Science Foundation  (2007)

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. NIH (2003)

Bush Fellowship. Waksman Institute, Rutgers University (1997-1999)

Waksman Fellowship. Waksman Institute, Rutgers University (1993-1997)



1.       Wang S., Hong S... Xu Z*. (2016) Transfer of Convalescent Serum to Pregnant Mice Prevents Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly in Offspring. Cell Research (accepted)

2.       Li C, Xu D, .. Xu Z*. (2016) Zika Virus Disrupts Neural Progenitor Development and Leads to Microcephaly in Mice. Cell Stem Cell doi:10.1016/j.stem.2016.04.017

3.       Zhang HS…. Xu Z*. (2016) Brain-specific Crmp2 deletion leads to neuronal development deficits and behavioural impairments in mice. Nat. Commun. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11773.

4.       Wang Y, Liu L,.. Xu Z*. (2016) Mea6 controls VLDL transport through the coordinated regulation of COPII assembly. Cell Research  doi:10.1038/cr.2016.75

5.       Zhang L, Zhang F,... Xu Z*. (2016)  The B cell receptor BR3 modulates cellular branching via Rac1 during neuronal migration. J Mol Cell Biol.  pii: mjw034

6.       Zhang F. Yu JW, Yang T. Xu D,.Xia YH., Xu Z*. (2016) A Novel c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) Signaling Complex Involved in Neuronal Migration during Brain Development. J Biol Chem pii: jbc.M116.716811. (Cover story, “Paper of the week” with editorial comments)

7.       Xu D. and Xu Z*. (2016) Driving WDR62 to the Pole. Cell Cycle DOI:10.1080/15384101. 2016.1154374

8.       Li P… Xu Z*, and Zhu Z*. (2015) Epigenetic silencing of microRNA-149 in cancer associated fibroblasts mediates prostaglandin E2/interleukin-6 signaling in the tumor microenvironment Cell Research 25(5):588-603

9.       Zhang F. Xu D,. Sun YM., Xu Z*. (2014)  Epigenetic regulation of Atrophin1 by lysine-specific demethylase is required for cortical progenitor maintenance. Nat. Commun, 5:5815. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6815

10.    Xu D. Zhang F, Wang Y, Sun Y, Xu Z*. (2014) Microcephaly Associated Protein WDR62 Regulates Neurogenesis through JNK1 in the developmental cortex. Cell Reports 6(1):104-16

11.    Yu J, Zhang F, Zhang Y, Fan M and Xu Z* (2014) TAK1 is activated by TGF-β signaling and controls axonal growth during brain development. J Mol Cell Biol.  6(4):349-51.

12.    Yang T., Sun YM…Xu Z* (2012) POSH Localizes Activated Rac1 to Control the Formation of Cytoplasmic Dilation of the Leading Process and Neuronal Migration. Cell Reports 2(3):640-51 (Article)




Research Interests








任金琪  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

于梅  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

张明  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

崔婕  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

牛竞文  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

王春艳  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

杨涛  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

孙一明  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

张鸿声  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

鲁彬  硕士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

池智霞  硕士研究生  071007-遗传学  

徐丹  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

刘亮  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

王硕  博士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

张威亚  硕士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

袁玲  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

张峰  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

刘新异  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

范俊婉  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

王骎  博士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

王桃  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

洪帅  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  


祝星亮  博士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

李翠  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

肖嘉盈  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

姜义圣  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

钟杰  博士研究生  071009-细胞生物学  

冯迎航  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

袁玉婷  博士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

刘为远  博士研究生  071010-生物化学与分子生物学  

赵子其  硕士研究生  071006-神经生物学  

郑昱  硕士研究生  071008-发育生物学  

马甜甜  博士研究生  071006-神经生物学