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Kuan Hong Wang, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-2314

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments

Biography

Professional Background

Dr. Kuan Hong Wang began his research training as an undergraduate at Harvard College, receiving B.A., Summa Cum Laude, with highest honors in Biochemical Sciences. He then went to the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) for his PhD research with Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and identified novel molecular regulators of axon growth and branching during neural development. During his postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Dr. Susumu Tonegawa, he developed new genetic tools and optical methods for tracking activity-regulated gene expression changes in the living brain and uncovered novel mechanisms of experience-dependent visual processing. As a principal investigator at the intramural research program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), he established a new line of research on the neural circuit and molecular mechanisms underlying goal-directed skills. His laboratory identified novel roles of the frontal cortex in learning and control of goal-directed skills, uncovered unique neuromodulatory signaling and intrinsic cellular mechanisms underlying frontal circuit plasticity, and established new paradigms on the parallel and modular corticospinal circuit architecture for top-down control of sensorimotor skills and pain. Presently, Dr. Wang is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center. His current research interests include the developmental origin, functional specialization, and therapeutic modulation of cortical circuits involved in the cognitive control of sensorimotor functions.

Research

Many psychiatric disorders are considered to have neurodevelopmental origins and are influenced by genetic and environmental risk factors. The long-term goal of Dr. Wang’s laboratory is to understand how genetic and experiential factors impact the developmental trajectory and functional architecture of brain circuits critically involved in psychiatric disorders in order to develop improved treatment and management for these diseases. Among the core deficits associated with serious psychiatric disability, the impairment of executive function, affecting the planning, initiation and regulation of goal-directed behaviors, has been increasingly highlighted as of central importance. Normal executive function in goal-directed behavior depends on the frontal lobe, and functional brain imaging studies have revealed altered activities in this brain region in patients suffering from schizophrenia, depression and drug addiction. However, much less is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which genetic and environmental factors perturb the development and function of frontal cortical circuits. Lack of such knowledge has hampered the identification of key cellular targets and molecular pathways for therapeutic interventions. The current focus of Dr. Wang’s laboratory is to elucidate the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying experience-dependent regulation of frontal cortical circuits in model organisms. A variety of cutting-edge technologies in molecular genetic engineering, in vivo multi-photon imaging, optogenetic neural modulation, electrophysiology, and behavioral analyses are being developed and integrated in the laboratory to perturb frontal cortical circuit development and function, and to investigate the ability of the circuit to change in response to both normal and pathological experience. Particularly, Dr. Wang’s group is interested in identifying and characterizing the molecular and cellular changes in the frontal cortical circuits that are regulated by the internal drives, environmental exposures and social interactions of an animal. Furthermore, Dr. Wang’s group is interested in examining the neurophysiological correlates of these molecular and cellular changes and determining the mechanisms by which these changes are integrated in the cortical circuits to control behavioral decisions and motor plans. Finally, Dr. Wang’s group is interested in evaluating the impacts of psychiatric risk factors and treatment strategies on experience-dependent molecular and cellular changes in the frontal cortical circuits through molecular genetic manipulation and optical imaging and probing.

Credentials

Education

1994
BA | Harvard College
Biochemical Sciences

1999
Ph.D. | University of California at San Francisco

Publications

Journal Articles

1/2019
"Developmental Exposure to Psychostimulant Primes Activity-dependent Gene Induction in Frontal Cortex." Developmental neurobiology.. 2019 Jan 0; 79(1):96-108. Epub 2018 Dec 19.

9/2018
"Touch and tactile neuropathic pain sensitivity are set by corticospinal projections." Nature.. 2018 Sep 0; 561(7724):547-550. Epub 2018 Sep 12.

3/29/2018
"Mechanism and consequence of abnormal calcium homeostasis in Rett syndrome astrocytes." eLife.. 2018 Mar 29; 7Epub 2018 Mar 29.

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