Zhu, J. Julius

J. Julius Zhu

J. Julius Zhu

Primary Appointment

Professor, Pharmacology


  • BS, Physiology & Biophysics, Peking University
  • MS, Neurobiology & Behavior, Shanghai Brain Research Institute
  • PhD, Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin Medical School
  • Postdoc, Neuroscience, Max-Planck-Institut for Medical Research
  • Postdoc, Neuroscience, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Sabbatical, Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science & Technology

Contact Information

PO Box 800735
1340 Jefferson Park Ave., Pinn Hall, Room 5025C
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Telephone: 434-243-9246
Fax: 434-982-3878
Email: jjzhu@virginia.edu
Website: http://www.uvaneuro.com/research-areas/neurobiology-of-ion-channels-in-health-and-disease/7105626

Research Interests

Neural Circuits in Healthy and Diseased Brains

Research Description

My students and I are interested in central neural circuits and synapses. We enjoy developing new experimental approaches that combine cutting-edge techniques, including rapid recombinant DNA delivery and replacement, multiple whole-cell recordings, genetically encoded sensors, single- and two-photon microscopy-based optogenetics and imaging, single-molecule force spectroscopy and immunoelectron microscopy. These technologies allow us to decipher the molecular and cellular regulations (e.g., nanoscale Ras/MAPK signaling) of synapses in neural circuits, as well as the organization and functions (e.g., salience selection) of neural circuits (Wang G, Wyskiel D, et al., Nature Protocols 10:397-412). Genetic defects of many signaling molecules are linked to a number of cognitive disorders, e.g., Akt/PKB and calcineurin with schizophrenia, BRaf with cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome, Brag/IQSec with nonsyndromic X-linked mental retardation, CaMKII with Angelman syndrome, H-Ras with Costello syndrome, p38MAPK and JNK with Alzheimer's disease, PI3K with fragile X syndrome, PTEN with autism, Cowden and Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndromes, RasGap NF1 with neurofibromatosis, Rsk with Coffin-Lowry syndrome and X-linked mental retardation, SHP-2 with Noonan syndrome, and tuberin with tuberous sclerosis. Altered interneuronal function is a common mechanism contributing to various neurological, mental and psychiatric disorders, including autisms, epilepsy, depression, Huntington?s disease, neurofibromatosis, schizophrenia, Tourette?s syndrome and trauma (Stornetta and Zhu, Neuroscientist 17: 54-78). Therefore, the findings from our research should guide the future development of treatments for these insidious diseases. Selected Publications First-authored by Undergraduate Students: Sheng Y, Zhang L, Su S, Tsai LH and Zhu JJ (2016) Cdk5 is a new rapid homeostatic transmission regulator capable of inducing the early Alzheimer-like synaptic pathology. Cerebral Cortex 26:2937-51. Lee AJ, Wang G, Jiang X, Johnson SM, Hoang ET, Lante F, Stornetta RL, Beenhakker MP, Shen Y and Zhu JJ (2015) Canonical organization of layer 1 neuron-led cortical inhibitory and disinhibitory interneuronal circuits. Cerebral Cortex 25:2114-26. Selected Publications First-authored by Graduate Students: Kielland A, Bochorishvili G, Corson J, Zhang L, Rosin DL, Heggelund P and Zhu JJ (2009) Activity patterns govern synapse-specific AMPA-R trafficking between deliverable and synaptic pools. Neuron 62:84-101. McCormack SG, Stornetta RL and Zhu JJ (2006) Synaptic AMPA receptor exchange maintains bidirectional plasticity. Neuron 50:75-88. Selected Publications by PI: Zhu JJ (2009) Activity level-dependent synapse-specific AMPA receptor trafficking regulates transmission kinetics. J Neurosci 29:6320-35. Zhu JJ (2000) Maturation of layer 5 neocortical pyramidal neurons: amplifying salient layer 1 and layer 4 inputs by Ca2+ action potentials in adult rat tuft dendrites. J Physiol (Lond) 526:571-87. Lab in NBC29 nightly news (http://www.nbc29.com/story/35237995/uva-new-technique-will-help-in-search-for-new-cancer-treatments) and other media outlets. Postdoctoral research associate, graduate and undergraduate student position available, please contact: jjzhu@virginia.edu

Selected Publications