Ping Wu, MD, PhD Professor

Wu_2015_adjDepartment of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, & Anatomy
4.212B Research Building 17
Route: 0620 | Tel: 409-772-9858 | Fax: (409) 747-2200 |


The Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
Moody Center for Traumatic Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Research
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, FLBM (equivalent to MD), Peking University, Bejing, China

Research Interests

My laboratory has been interested in both basic science research and translational research in the field of neuroscience. Particularly we focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms of plasticity, multipotential and trophic factor secretion of neural stem cells (NSCs); as well as applications of NSCs to model and treat neurological diseases.

To learn the biology of human and rodent NSCs, we focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying fate specification of NSCs, and develop novel strategies to guide them to generate specific types of neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.To model neural diseases, we are interested in applying both human and rodent NSCs and their differentiated neural cells to mimic traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, alcohol and cocaine abuse, neural infection (such as Zika virus, henipavirus, and HIV), and neurodegenerative diseases such ALS. Specific efforts are also devoted to learn the interaction between NSCs and other types of cells in a microenvironment.

To treat neural diseases, we use NSCs to screen potential drugs to protect human neurons. We also develop novel strategies to transplant exogenous NSC-differentiated neuronal cells into traumatically injured or degenerated brains and spinal cords, as well as to mobilize endogenous NSCs to replace lost neurons in a cell specific manner.

The outcome of our studies will provide insights towards development of stem cell-related therapy to treat neurological diseases like ALS, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, neuroinfection and addiction.

Selected Publications

Wu, P. (corresponding author), Tarasenko, Y.I., 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. 5(12):1271-1278, 2002.

Xu, Y., Gu, Y., Xu, G.Y., 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 100:6204-6209, 2003.

Gao, J., Coggeshall, R., Tarasenko, Y.I. and Wu, P. Human neural stem cell-derived cholinergic neurons innervate muscle in motoneuron deficient adult rats. Neurosc. 131:257-262 (Rapid Report), 2005.

Gao, J., Prough, D.S., McAdoo, D.J., Grady, J.J., Parsley, M.O., Ma, L., Tarasenko, Y.I. and Wu, P. Transplantation of primed human fetal neural stem cells improves cognitive function in rats after traumatic brain injury. Exp. Neurol. 201:281-92 (featured on the cover), 2006.

Tarasenko, Y.I., Nie, L., McAdoo, D.J., Johnson, K.M., Hulsebosch, C.E., Grady, J.J. and Wu, P. Human fetal neural stem cells grafted into contusion-injured rat spinal cord improve behavior. J. Neurosc. Res. 85:47-57, 2007.

Thonhoff, J.R., Lou, D.I., Jordan, P.M., Zhao, X. and Wu, P. Compatibility of human fetal neural stem cells with bioengineering hydrogels in vitro. Brain Res. 1187:42-51, 2008.

Ojeda, L., Gao, J., Hooten, K.G., Wang, E., Thonhoff, J.R., 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 6:e23414, 2011.

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 29:295-312, 2012.

Li, B., Shi, Y., Shu, J., Gao, J., Wu, P. and Tang, S.-J. Wingless-type mammary tumor virus integration site family, member 5A (Wnt5a) regulates human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120)-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines via the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathways. J. Biol. Chem. 288:13610-13619, 2013.

Yun, T., Park, A., Yun, T.E., Hill, T.E., Pernet, O., Beaty, S.M., Juelich, T.L., Smith, J.K., Zhang, L., Wang, Y.E., Vigant, F., Gao, J., Wu, P., Lee, B. and Freiberg, A.N. Efficient reverse genetics reveals genetic determinants of budding and fusogenic differences between Nipah and Hendra virus and enables real-time monitoring of viral spread in small animal models of henipavirus infection. J. Virol. 89:1242-53, 2015.

Link to PubMed Publications