Neural Circuits and Neurodegeneration

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder marked by loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a neuromodulator that regulates voluntary movement and many other biological processes. As gradual depletion of dopamine in the brain and progressive degeneration of these critical cells occurs, the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease start to appear, including akinesia, bradykinesia, rigidity and tremor.

The Chu Lab integrates molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience to identify mechanisms that contribute to progressive degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and abnormal circuit activity that underlies the devastating motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The long-term goal of the Chu Lab is to develop precision strategies to target specific types of neurons or neural circuits for disease prevention and treatment.

Join the Chu Team!

The Chu Lab is seeking outstanding postdoctoral fellow candidates. Please send inquiries to Dr. Chu for information on potential opportunities.

Contact Dr. Chu

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  • 120 peer-reviewed papers published in 2023
  • 62 peer-reviewed papers published in high-impact journals in 2023
  • 55 clinical trials launched to date

Hong-yuan Chu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Areas of Expertise

Synaptic physiology, cellular physiology, plasticity, neuromodulation, neural circuitry, electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, Parkinson’s disease


Hong-yuan Chu received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica. He then completed postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health and Northwestern University. In 2019, he joined Van Andel Institute’s Department of Neurodegenerative Science as an assistant professor. Dr. Chu serves as a reviewer for eLife, Journal Parkinson’s Disease, the Frontiers journals, and others. He is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious 2020 BBRF Young Investigator Award.

Society memberships
International Basal Ganglia Society
American Society for Neuroscience

Selected publications

PubMed | Google Scholar

Chen L, Daniels S, Dvorak R, Chu H-Y. 2023. Reduced thalamic excitation to motor cortical pyramidal tract neurons in parkinsonism. Sci Adv 9(34).

Chen L, Nagaraja C, Daniels S, Fisk ZA, Dvorak R, Meyerdirk L, Steiner JA, Escobar Galvis ML, Henderson MX, Rousseaux MWC, Brundin P, Chu HY. 2022. Synaptic location is a determinant of the detrimental effects of α-synuclein pathology to glutamatergic transmission in the basolateral amygdala. eLife 11:e78055.

Chen L, Daniels S, Kim Y, Chu HY. 2021. Cell type-specific decrease of the intrinsic excitability of motor cortical pyramidal neurons in ParkinsonismJ Neurosci 41(25):5553–5565.

Chu HY. 2020. Synaptic and cellular plasticity in Parkinson’s diseaseActa Pharmacol Sin 41(4):447–452.

McIver EL, Atherton JF, Chu HY, Cosgrove KE, Kondapalli J, Wokosin D, Surmeier DJ, Bevan MD. 2019. Maladaptive downregulation of autonomous subthalamic nucleus activity following loss of midbrain dopamine neuronsCell Rep 28(4): 992–1002.e4.

Chu HY, McIver EL, Kovaleski RF, Atherton JF, Bevan MD. 2017. Loss of hyperdirect pathway cortico-subthalamic inputs following degeneration of midbrain dopamine neuronsNeuron 95(6):1306–1318.
*Comment in Neuron

Chu HY, Atherton JF, Wokosin D, Surmeier DJ, Bevan MD. 2015. Heterosynaptic regulation of external globus pallidus inputs to the subthalamic nucleus by motor cortexNeuron 85(2):364–376.
*Comment in Neuron

Chu HY, Li J, Ito W, Li J, Morozov A. 2012. Target-specific suppression of GABA release from parvalbumin-interneurons in basolateral amygdala by dopamineJ Neurosci 32(42):14815–14820.
*Comment in

Zhou S, Chu HY, Jin GZ, Cui JM, Zhen X. 2014. Effects of SKF83959 on the excitability of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons: a modeling studyActa Pharmacol Sin 35(6):738–751.

Gao M*, Chu HY*, Jin GZ, Zhang ZJ, Wu J, Zhen X. 2011. l-Stepholidine-induced excitation of dopamine neurons in rat ventral tegmental area is associated with its 5-HT1A receptor partial agonistic activitySynapse 65(5):379–387.
*Co-first authors

Chu HY, Wu Q, Zhou S, Cao X, Zhang A, Jin GZ, Hu GY, Zhen X. 2011. SKF83959 suppresses excitatory synaptic transmission in rat hippocampus via a dopamine receptor-independent mechanismJ Neurosci Res 89(8):1259–1266.

Chu HY, Gu Q, Jin GZ, Hu GY, Zhen X. 2010. Electrophysiological effects of SKF83959 on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons: Potential mechanisms for the drug’s neuroprotective effectsPLoS One.

Chu HY, Yang Z, Zhao B, Jin GZ, Hu GY, Zhen X. 2010. Activation of phosphatidylinositol-linked D1-like receptors increases spontaneous glutamate release in rat somatosensory cortical neurons in vitroBrain Res 1343:20–27.

Chu HY, Zhen X. 2010. Hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels in the regulation of midbrain dopamine systemsActa Pharmacol Sin 31(9):1036–1043.

Daniil Berezhnoi, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Hiba Douja Chehade, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chu Laboratory

Liqiang Chen, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chu Laboratory

Parkinson’s disease, basal ganglion, brain circuitry and dopamine depletion

Suraj Cherian, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Jamie Durst, B.S.

Senior Administrative Assistant I, Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Gabriel Simms

Assistant Research Technician, Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Wei Zhou, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chu Laboratory

Lab Alumni

Rachel Dvorak

Research Technician

Judith Essemiah


Ohanes Khacherian, B.A.

Research Technician

Did you know?

Members of the Chu Lab collectively speak nine languages!