Wenzhen Duan MD, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Telephone Number: 410-502-2866
Fax Number: 410-614-0013

Johns Hopkins University
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
600 N. Wolfe St.
Baltimore, MD 21287
Room: 9-111 CMSC
Areas of Research
Neurobiology of Disease

Graduate Program Affiliations

Neuroscience Training Program

Cellular and Molecular Medicine

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    Representative in vivo MRI images with deformation-based morphometry (DBM) of relative tissue volume; major structural boundaries defined in the control mouse are overlaid on the R6/2 mouse and color-coded Jacobian maps for visual guidance. In the Jacobian map, only regions with significant change in local tissue volume (false discovery rate = 0.05) are shown. The color reflects the normalized local tissue volume with respect to local tissue volume in similar regions in the control mouse brains. Green and blue in the Jacobian map indicate mild and severe atrophy, respectively. Atrophy in the neocortex (white arrows), striatum (yellow arrows), piriform cortex (magenta arrows), hippocampus (red arrows), thalamus (orange arrows), and amygdala (cyan arrows) can be appreciated (Zhang et al., Neuroimage 2010 49(3):2340-51).

Translational Neurobiology Research

Our research program focuses on understanding the pathogenesis, molecular mechanisms and developing experimental therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly focus on Huntington’s disease (HD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD).

A multifaceted array of experimental models of neurodegenerative disorders is being employed in our laboratory in order to establish the molecular and cellular changes that occur in these neurodegenerative disorders.  Data obtained in the experimental models are integrated with data obtained in therapeutic trial studies to determine why neuronal dysfunction and degeneration occur in the disease condition.  In addition to identifying the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to neuronal degeneration, the research projects in our laboratory focus on discovering new therapeutic target(s) for HD and PD; meanwhile we are validating biomarkers for therapeutic evaluation in the preclinical trials.

A major effort underway is to understand the contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction and abnormalities in energy metabolism to neurodegeneration in HD.  We are interested in understanding the role of protein posttranslational modifications (PTMs) in the process of neurodegeneration.  In addition, we have established structural MRI measures as a biomarker in preclinical trials of HD and are expanding our effort to develop metabolic and functional MRI measures as early biomarkers in mouse models.  Our current effort focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular changes underlying the neuroimage findings in both gray matter and white matter of brain, and the correlation of neuroimage changes with functional consequence of clinical manifestation in HD.

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