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Ying Zhang

Ying Zhang

Assistant Professor


2008-2012     Nanjing University / B.S.

2012-2017     Zhejiang University / Ph.D.

2017-2023     MIT / Postdoc Fellow

2023-present  School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, China/ Assistant Professor

2023-present Center for Life Sciences & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Tsinghua University / Principle Investigator


Research focus

The thalamus historically has been known to play a role in sensory processing (i.e., relay functions). Over the past decade, work by us and others have started to show that different thalamic nuclei and their cell types contribute to non-relay processes including cognition and mood regulation. This non-relay idea is supported by evidence from human subjects with localized thalamic lesions that show robust memory deficits and depression symptoms. To understand how the thalamus functions in health and disease states, we employ a multi-disciplinary approach including genome editing, in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology, pharmacology, and imaging techniques. Our goal is to identify novel molecular targets and neural circuit manipulations within thalamus capable of alleviating some neurological disorder symptoms.

Lab website: https://www.yingzhanglab.com/


Selected Publications *Co-first authors #Co-corresponding authors

·       Zhang Y*#, Roy DS*#, Zhu Y, Chen Y, Aida T, Hou Y, Shen C, Lea NE, Schroeder ME, Skaggs KM, Sullivan HA, Fischer KB, Callaway EM, Wickersham IR, Dai J, Li XM, Lu Z, Feng G#, “Targeting thalamic circuits rescues motor and mood deficits in PD mice”, Nature, 2022.


·       Roy DS*#, Zhang Y*#, Aida T, Shen C, Skaggs KM, Hou Y, Fleishman M, Mosto O, Weninger A, Feng G#, “Anterior thalamic circuits crucial for working memory”, PNAS, 2022.


·       Roy DS*, Park YG*, Kim ME*, Zhang Y*, Ogawa SK*, DiNapoli N, Gu X, Cho JH, Choi H, Kamensky L, Martin J, Mosto O, Aida T, Chung K, Tonegawa S, “Brain-wide mapping reveals that engrams for a single memory are distributed across multiple brain regions”, Nature Communications, 2022.


·       Roy DS*#, Zhang Y*, Aida T, Choi S, Chen Q, Hou Y, Lea NE, Skaggs KM, Quay JC, Liew M, Maisano H, Le V, Jones C, Xu J, Kong D, Sullivan HA, Saunders A, McCarroll SA, Wickersham IR, Feng G#, “Anterior thalamic dysfunction underlies cognitive deficits in a subset of neuropsychiatric disease models”, Neuron, 2021.


·       Zhang Y*, Zhu Y*, Cao SX*, Sun P, Yang JM, Xia YF, Xie SZ, Yu XD, Fu JY, Shen CJ, He HY, Pan HQ, Chen XJ, Wang H, Li XM, “MeCP2 in cholinergic interneurons of nucleus accumbens regulates fear learning”, Elife, 2020.


·       Cao SX*, Zhang Y*, Hu XY, Hong B, Sun P, He HY, Geng HY, Bao AM, Duan SM, Yang JM, Gao TM, Lian H, Li XM, “ErbB4 deletion in noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus induces mania-like behavior via elevated catecholamines”, Elife, 2018.


·       Zhang Y*, Cao SX*, Sun P, He HY, Yang CH, Chen XJ, Shen CJ, Wang XD, Chen Z, Berg D, Duan SM, Li XM, “Loss of MeCP2 in cholinergic neurons causes part of RTT-like phenotypes via a7 receptor in hippocampus”, Cell Research, 2016.


Contact information:


AddressBiomedical building B403, Tsinghua University



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