Professor and Chair,xylu
Dept. of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine
GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Translational Neuroscience
School of Graduate Studies

Mailing Address:

Dept. of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine
1120 15th Street, Rm. CA3006
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
Augusta, GA 30912

Office:   CA-3006
Phone:  706-721-0550


1993-1998 Ph.D. in Pharmacology, Washington State University, WA
1987-1990 M.Sc. in Biochemistry, Zhanjiang Medical College, China
1982-1987 M.D., Binzhou Medical College, China


1998-2001 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mental Health Research Institute, Univ. of Michigan, Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.

Research Interests:

Stress-related disorders, Alzheimer's disease, brain aging, neural plasticity, epigenetics

Our long term research goal is to understand molecular, cellular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and treatment of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. Our on-going projects include 1) histone tail modifications during aging and in Alzheimer’s disease (AD); 2) adipokine modulation of synaptic plasticity and cognitive and emotional behaviors; 3) interplay between peripheral and CNS inflammation in neurodegeneration and stress-related disorders; and 4) hippocampal and hypothalamic neurons in stress responses and adaptations.


Dr. Lu lab image


Lab Members:

Yun Lei, PhD – Assistant Professor
Nagendran Muthusamy, PhD – Senior Research Scientist
Jacob Garza, PhD – Senior Research Scientist
Yuting Chen, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow
Brandy Somera, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Maryam Malek, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Sarah Ryan – Research Associate
Yu Bai – Research Assistant
Shu Chen – Research Technician

Kirstyn Denney – PhD Student
Jayvon Nougiasse - MD/PhD Student
Amin Karimi Moghaddam - PhD Student

Simon Miller - Medical Student
Maya Muhanna - Medical Student
Christopher Carpenter – Undergraduate Student

Open Positions at Lu Lab:

We are currently welcoming postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students to join our laboratory.

Postdoctoral Fellows: 
We seek postdoctoral fellows interested in studying Alzheimer’s disease, depression and PTSD. The ideal candidates will hold a PhD in neuroscience, physiology, molecular/cell biology, metabolic biology or neuropharmacology. Expertise in electrophysiology, transgenic mouse models, epigenetics, imaging, and in vitro and in vivo adipose biology is desirable. Candidates are expected to have good communication skills and have a strong drive for building a successful research career.

Graduate Students:
We welcome graduate students and are interested in potential rotation students. Prospective students can apply to our lab through the Graduate Program in Neuroscience as well as through the MD/PhD Program.

Undergraduate Students:
We accept motivated undergraduate students who are interested in biomedical research.

Selected Publications:

  1. Lei Y, Wang D, Bai Y, Nougaisse J, Weintraub NL, Guo M, Lu XY (2022). Leptin enhances social motivation and reverses chronic unpredictable stress-induced social anhedonia during adolescence.  Molecular Psychiatry.  Accepted for publication.
  2. Fang X, Chen Y, Wang J, Zhang Z, Bai Y, Denney K, Gan L, Guo M, Weintraub NL, Lei Y, Lu XY (2022). Activation of hypothalamic POMC neurons is sufficient and necessary to induce anhedonia and behavioral despair.  Molecular Psychiatry.  In revision
  3. Kim J, Lei Y, Lu XY, and Kim CS (2022). Glucocorticoid-glucocorticoid receptor-HCN1 channels reduce neuronal excitability in dorsal hippocampal CA1 neurons. Molecular Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 15. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01682-9. Online ahead of print.
  4. Chin E, Ma Q, Ruan H, Chin C, Somasundaram A, Zhang C, Liu C, Lewis M, White MA, Smith T, Battersby M, Yao WD, Lu XY, Arap W, Licinio J, Wong ML (2022).  The epigenetic reader PHF21B modulates social memory and synaptic plasticity-related genes in mice.  JCI Insight. 2022 Jul 22;7(14): e158081. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight. 158081
  5. Kumro J, Tripathi A, Lei Y, Sword J, Callahan P, Terry A, Lu XY, Kirov S, Pillai A, Blake DT.  Cholinergic forebrain activation improves cognition, boosts neurotrophin receptors, and lowers Aβ42 levels in the cerebral cortex of 5xFAD mice.  bioRxiv preprint doi: March 7, 2022
  6. Kim NS, Wen Z, Liu J, Zhou Y, Guo Z, Xu C, Lin YT, Yoon KJ, Park J, Cho M, Kim M, Wang X, Yu H, Salamuru S, Christian KM, Hsu KS, Xia M, Li W, Ross CA, Margolis RL, Lu XY#, Song H#, Ming GL# (2021). Pharmacological rescue in patient iPSC and mouse models with a rare DISC1 mutation. Nature Communications. 2021 Mar 3;12(1):1398. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21713-3.  #co-corresponding authors
  7. Fang X, Jiang S, Wang J, Bai Y, Kim CS, Blake DT, Weintraub NL, Lei Y, Lu XY (2021). Chronic unpredictable stress induces depression-related behaviors via suppressing AgRP neuron activity. Molecular Psychiatry.  2021 Jan 11. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-01004-x. Online ahead of print.
  8. Wong ML, Arcos-Burgos M, Liu S, Licinio AW, Yu C, Chin EWM, Yao WD, Lu XY, Bornstein SR, Licinio J (2021) Rare Functional Variants Associated with Antidepressant Remission in Mexican-Americans: Short title: Antidepressant remission and pharmacogenetics in Mexican-Americans. Journal of Affective Disorders. 279:491-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.10.027. Epub 2020 Oct 17.
  9. Li C, Meng F, Lei Y, Liu J, Liu J, Zhang J, Liu F, Liu C, Guo M, Lu XY (2020). Leptin regulates exon-specific transcription of the Bdnf gene via epigenetic modifications mediated by an AKT/p300 HAT cascade.Molecular Psychiatry. 2020 Oct 26. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-00922-0. Online ahead of print.
  10. Li C, Meng F, Garza JC, Liu J, Lei Y, Kirov S, Guo M, Lu XY (2020). Modulation of depression-related behaviors by adiponectin AdipoR1 receptors in 5-HT neurons. Molecular Psychiatry.  2020 Jan 24. doi: 10.1038/s441380-020-0649-0.
  11. Lei Y, Wang J, Wang D, Li C, Liu B, Fang X, You J, Guo M, Lu XY (2020). SIRT1in forebrain excitatory neurons produces sexually dimorphic effects on depression-related behaviors and modulates neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission in the medial prefrontal cortex Molecular Psychiatry. 25:1094-1111. 2019 Jan 31. doi: 10.1038/s41380-019-0352-1. [Epub ahead of print]
  12. Yiew NKH, Greenway C, Zarzour A, Ahmadieh S, Goo B, Kim D, Benson TW, Ogbi M, Tang YL, Chen W, Stepp D, Patel V, Hilton R, Lu XY, Hui DY, Kim HW, Weintraub NL (2019). Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) regulates adipocyte lipid metabolism independent of adipogenic differentiation: Role of apolipoprotein E. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 294(21):8577-8591.
  13. Sun F, Lei Y, You J, Li C, Sun L, Garza J, Zhang D, Guo M, Scherer P, Lodge D, Lu XY (2019). Adiponectin modulates ventral tegmental area dopamine neuron activity and anxiety-related behavior through AdipoR1. Molecular Psychiatry, 24(1):126-144.
  14. Guo M, Li C, Lei Y, Xu S, Zhao D, Lu XY (2017). Role of the adipose PPARγ/adiponectin axis in susceptibility to stress and emotion-related behaviors. Molecular Psychiatry, 22(7):1056-1068.
  15. Zhang D, Wang X, Wang B, Garza JC, Fang X, Wang J, Scherer, PE, Brenner R, Lu XY (2017).  Adiponectin  regulates  contextual  fear  extinction  and  intrinsic  excitability  of  dentate  gyrus neurons through AdipoR2 receptors. Molecular Psychiatry, 22(7):1044-1055 (Cover).
  16. Zhang  D,  Wang  X,  Lu  XY  (2016).  Adiponectin  exerts  neurotrophic  effects  on  dendritic arborization, spinogenesis and neurogenesis of the dentate gyrus of male mice. Endocrinology, 157(7):2853-2869.
  17. Wang X, Zhang D, Lu XY (2015). Dentate gyrus-CA3 glutamate release/NMDA transmission mediates  behavioral  despair  and  antidepressant-like  responses  to  leptin.  Molecular  Psychiatry, 20(4):509-19 (Cover).
  18. Guo M, Lu XY (2014) Leptin receptor deficiency confers resistance to behavioral effects of fluoxetine and desipramine via separable substrates. Translational Psychiatry, 2014 Dec 2;4:e486. doi:10.1038/tp.2014.126. Highlighted in N Engl J Med - Journal Watch Psychiatry (31 Dec 2014).
  19. Liu J, Guo M, Zhang D, Cheng SY, Liu M, Ding J, Scherer P, Liu F, Lu XY (2012). Adiponectin is  critical  in  determining  susceptibility  to  depressive  behaviors  and  has  antidepressant-like activity.  Proc  Natl  Acad  Sci  USA,  109(30):12248-53.  Highlighted  in  Nature  487:274  (19 Jul 2012); PNAS press (10 Jul 2012); Faculty of 1000, 24 Jul 2012
  20. Guo M, Lu Y, Garza JC, Li Y, Chua SC, Zhang W, Lu B, Lu XY (2012). Forebrain glutamatergic neurons mediate leptin action on depression-like behaviors and synaptic depression. Translational Psychiatry,  2:  e83;  doi:10.1038/tp.2012.9.  Highlighted  in  N  Engl  J  Med  Journal  Watch Psychiatry (2 Apr 2012).
  21. Garza JC, Guo M, Zhang W, Lu XY (2012). Leptin restores adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a chronic unpredictable stress model of depression and reverses glucocorticoid-induced inhibition of GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling. Molecular Psychiatry, 17(8):790-808 (Cover). Highlighted by Faculty of 1000, 31 Jan 2012
  22. Liu J, Perez S, Zhang W, Lodge D, Lu XY (2011). Selective deletion of the leptin receptor in dopamine neurons produces anxiogenic-like behavior and increases amygdaloid dopaminergic activity. Molecular Psychiatry, 16:1024-1038 (Cover)