Ping Wu, MD, PhD John S. Dunn Distinguished Chair in Neurological Recover
Professor& Vice Chair for Research, Department of Neurobiology

Wu__2020Department of Neurobiology
4.212B Research Building 17
Route: 0654 | Tel: 409-772-9858 |


The Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
Mission Connect TIRR Foundation
Center for Addiction Research


Education and Training

PhD in Neuroendocrinology, UTMB, Galveston, TX
Post-Doctoral in Molecular Neuroscience & Gene Transfer, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainsville, FL
BM (equivalent to MD), Peking University, Beijing, China

Research Interests

My research has focused on neural stem/progenitor cells (NSCs or NSPCs) since 1999. My team is interested in both basic science and translational research by using classical and cutting-edge technologies. Studying the biology of NSCs, we developed efficient protocols to culture human and rodent NSCs and investigated molecular mechanisms guiding NSCs to generate different neuronal and non-neuronal cells. For translational research, my team has initiated multiple NSC-based research in the following areas: 1) using human and rodent NSC systems to mimic pathological changes and explore underlying mechanisms for neurotrauma, neural infection, neural degeneration, and substance abuse; 2) developing NSC systems for drug screening and validation; 3) characterizing adult NSCs in response to various insults; and 4) developing NSC-based therapeutic strategies for neurological disease/disorders by transplanting exogenous NSCs or manipulating adult endogenous NSCs. 

Our current studies focus on investigating 1) the role of yolk sac microglia in vertical transmission of Zika virus and brain teratogenesis, and 2) the impact of maternal opioid exposure on fetal brain development and offspring behavior.

Selected Publications

Liang Y, Aditi F, Onyoni F, Wang H, Gonzales C, Sunyakumthorn P, Wu P, Samir P and Soong L, Brain transcriptomics reveal the activation of neuroinflammation pathways during acute Orientia tsutsugamushi infection in miceFront Immunol 2023; 14:1194881. PMCID: PMC10326051

Nelson J, Ochoa L, Villareal P, Dunn T, Wu P, Vargas G and Freiberg AN, Powassan virus induces structural changes in human neuronal cells in vitro and marine neurons in vivo. Pathogens 2022; 11(10):1218

Sowers JL, Sowers ML, Schavkunov A, Hawkins BE, Wu P, DeWitt DS, Prough DS and Zhang K, Traumatic brain Injury Induces Region-specific Glutamate Metabolism Changes As Measured by Multiple Mass Spectrometry Methods. iScience 2021; 24: 103108. PMID: 34622161  PMCID: PMC8479783

Song WY, Ding H, Dunn TJ, Gao J, Allende Labastida J, Schlagal C, Sowers JS, Ning G, Shi-Qing Feng S-Q, and Wu P, Low-dose metformin treatment in the subacute phase improves the locomotor function of a mouse model of spinal cord injury. Neural Regen Res 2021; 16:2234-2242. PMID: 33818507 PMCID: PMC8354108

Schlagal CR, Dunn TJ, Xu P, Felsing DE, Merritt CR, Manja S, Fox RG, Buffington SA, Saade G, Dineley KT, Yu Y, Cunningham KA, and Wu P, Maternal opioid exposure culminates in perturbed murine neurodevelopment and hyperactive phenotype in dolescence. Neurosci 2021; 463:272-287. PMID: 33811940  PMCID: PMC9233450

Xu P, Gao J, Shan C, Dunn TJ, Xie X, Xia H, Zou J, Thames BH, Sajja A, Y, Vasilakis N, Yu Y, Freiberg AN, Vasilakis N, Shi P-Y, Weaver SC, and Wu P, Inhibition of innate immune response ameliorates Zika virus-induced neurogenesis deficit in human neural stem cells. PloS NTD 2021; 15(3):e0009183.  PMCID: PMC7959377

Xu P, Shan C, Dunn TJ, Xie X, Gao J, Allende Labastida J,   Zou J, Villarreal PP, Schlagal C, Yu Y,   Vargas G, Rossi SL, Vasilakis N, Shi P-Y, Weaver SC, and Wu P, Role of microglia in the vertical transmission of Zika virus from mother to fetal brain. PloS Negl Trop Dis 2020; 14:e0008413. PMCID: PMC7365479

McGrath EL, Schlagal CR, Cortez I, Dunn TJ, Gao J, Fox RG, Stutz SJ, Kuo Y-F, Hommel JD, Dineley KT, Cunningham KA, Kaphalia BS, and Wu P, Chronic poly-drug administration damages adult mouse brain neural stem cells. Brain Res 2019; 1723:146425. PMCID: PMC9153393

Mitra J, Guerrero EN, Hegde PM, Liachko NF, Vasquez VM, Wang H, Gao J, Pandey A, Taylor JP, Kraemer BC, Wu P, Boldogh I, Garruto RM, Mitra S, Rao KS and Hegde ML, Motor Neuron Disease-Associated Loss of Nuclear TDP-43 is Linked to DNA Double-Strand Break Repair Defects. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 2019; 116:4696-4705. PMID: 30770445 PMCID: PMC6410842

Dawes BE, Gao J, Atkins C, Nelson JT, Johnson K, Wu P, and Freiberg AN, Human neural stem cell-derived neuron/astrocyte co-cultures respond to La Crosse virus infection with proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. J Neuroinflammation 2018; 15:315. PMID: 30442185. PMCID: PMC6236894

McGrath EL, Gao J, Kuo YF, Dunn TJ, Dineley KT, Cunningham KA, Kaphalia BS, and Wu P, Spatial and sex-dependent responses of adult endogenous neural stem cells to alcohol consumption. Stem Cell Reports 2017; 9:1916-1930. PMID: 29129682 PMCID: PMC5785672

McGrath EL, Rossi SL, Gao J, Widen S, Grant AC, Dunn TJ, Azar SR, Roundy CM, Xiong Y, Prusak DJ, Loucas BD, Wood T, Yu Y, Fernández-Salas I, Weaver SC, Vasilakis N and Wu P, Differential responses of human fetal brain neural stem cells to Zika virus infection. Stem Cell Reports 2017; 8:715-27.  PMID: 28216147 PMCID: 5355569 

Gao J, Grill RJ, Dunn TJ, Bedi S, Hetz RA, Xue H, Thonhoff JR, DeWitt DS, Prough DS, Cox Jr CS, and Wu P, Human Neural Stem Cell Transplantation-Mediated Alteration of Microglial/ Macrophage Phenotypes after Traumatic Brain Injury. Cell Transplantation 2016; 25:1863-1877 PMID: 26980267 

Barrows NJ, Campos RK, Powell S, Prasanth KR, Schott-Lerner G, Soto-Acosta R, Gaddiel Galarza-Muñoz1, McGrath EL, Urrabaz-Garza R, Gao J, Wu P, Menon R, Saade G, Fernandez-Salas I, Rossi SL, Vasilakis N, Routh A, Bradrick SS and Garcia-Blanco MA, A screen of FDA-approved drugs for inhibitors of Zika virus infection. Cell Host Microbe 2016; 20:259-270 PMID 27476412

Wang E, Gao J, Denner L, Dunn T, Parles M, Zhang L and Wu P, Molecular mechanisms underlying protective effects of neural stem cells against traumatic axonal injury. J Neurotrauma 2012; 29:295-312. PMID: 22077363 DOI: 10.1089/neu.2011.2043

Ojeda L, Gao J, Hooten KG, Wang E, Thonhoff JR, Gao T and Wu P, Critical role of PI3K/Akt/GSK3beta in motoneuron specification from human neural stem cells in response to FGF2 and EGF. PLoS ONE 2011; 6:e23414. PMCID: PMC3160859

Thonhoff JR, Lou DI, Jordan PM, Zhao X and Wu P, Compatibility of human fetal neural stem cells with hydrogel biomaterials in vitro. Brain Res 2008; 1187:42-51. PMID: 18021754

Tarasenko YI, Nie L, McAdoo DJ, Johnson KM, Hulsebosch CE, Grady JJ and Wu P, Human fetal neural stem cells grafted into contusion-injured rat spinal cord improve behavior. J Neurosc Res 2007; 85:47-57. PMID: 17075895 DOI: 10.1002/jnr.21098

Gao J, Prough DS, McAdoo DJ, Grady JJ, Parsley MO, Ma L, Tarasenko YI and Wu P, Transplantation of primed human fetal neural stem cells improves cognitive function in rats after traumatic brain injury. Exp Neurol 2006; 201:281-92 (featured on the cover). PMID: 16904107 DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2006.04.039

Gao J, Coggeshall R, Tarasenko YI and Wu P, Human neural stem cell-derived cholinergic neurons innervate muscle in motoneuron deficient adult rats. Neurosc 2005 131:257-262 (Rapid Report). PMID: 15708470 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2004.10.033

Xu Y, Gu Y, Xu GY, Wu P, Li G-W and Huang L-Y, Adeno-associated viral transfer of opioid receptor gene to primary sensory neurons- a novel strategy to increase opioid antinociception. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 2003; 100:6204-6209. PMCID: PMC156350

Wu P, Tarasenko YI, Gu Y, Huang L-Y, Coggeshall R and Yu Y, Region-specific generation of cholinergic neurons from fetal human neural stem cells grafted in adult rat. Nat Neurosci 2002; 5(12):1271-1278. PMID: 12426573 DOI: 10.1038/nn974

Link to PubMed Publications