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Wenbiao Gan

Professor, Department of Neuroscience Institute
Skirball Institute

Contact Info



— Columbia U, Medical Education

Research Summary

Wen-Biao Gan, Ph.D. Skirball Institute and Department of Physiology and Neuroscience One of the most important features of the nervous system is its remarkable plasticity during development and in learning and memory. Many lines of evidence indicate that the number and distribution of synapses in many parts of the nervous system change throughout life. Very little is known at present about how changes in synaptic structure take place in living animals. We are studying the mechanisms that regulate structural plasticity of synapses by taking advantage of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) expressing transgenic mice in which synaptic structure are specifically labeled by GFP. Using a confocal microscope, we have recently been able to generate 3-dimensional reconstructions of synapses on individual neurons at the submandibular ganglion and the superior cervical ganglion of living mice. By following synapses of the same neuron over time, we have found that synaptic structure is generally stable over several days but undergoes substantial remodeling over a period of weeks in the mouse submandibular ganglion (Fig.1). The ability to follow individual inter-neuronal synapses in vivo opens a direct window to study many interesting questions such as: How dynamic are synapses once they are formed? How does neuronal activity modulate synaptic structure? How does change in synaptic structure occur as a function of age? We are currently addressing these questions using high-resolution in vivo confocal imaging, electron microscopy and molecular approaches. In addition to study neural plasticity in the peripheral nervous system, we have recently developed a technique for rapid labeling of a large number of neurons with many different colors (Fig.2). Using this technique, we are planning to study structural plasticity of neuronal circuits in the central nervous system.

Research Interests

Synaptic Plasticity

Branch-specific dendritic Ca(2+) spikes cause persistent synaptic plasticity
Cichon, Joseph; Gan, Wen-Biao
2015-04-23; 1476-4687,Nature - id: 1539032, year: 2015 Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

Chitooligosaccharide inhibits scar formation and enhances functional recovery in a mouse model of sciatic nerve injury
Hou, Hongping; Zhang, Lihai; Ye, Zuguang; Li, Jianrong; Lian, Zijian; Chen, Chao; He, Rong; Peng, Bo; Xu, Qihua; Zhang, Guangping; Gan, Wenbiao; Tang, Peifu
2015-06-01; 1559-1182,Molecular neurobiology - id: 1604702, year: 2015

In vivo two-photon imaging of axonal dieback, blood flow, and calcium influx with methylprednisolone therapy after spinal cord injury
Tang, Peifu; Zhang, Yiling; Chen, Chao; Ji, Xinran; Ju, Furong; Liu, Xingyu; Gan, Wen-Biao; He, Zhigang; Zhang, Shengxiang; Li, Wei; Zhang, Lihai
2015-06-08; 2045-2322,Scientific reports - id: 1616402, year: 2015 Journal Article

Imaging of mitochondrial dynamics in motor and sensory axons of living mice
Bolea, Irene; Gan, Wen-Biao; Manfedi, Giovanni; Magrane, Jordi
2014-12-01; 0076-6879,Methods in enzymology - id: 1360552, year: 2014 Journal Article

Antipsychotics Activate mTORC1-Dependent Translation to Enhance Neuronal Morphological Complexity
Bowling, Heather; Zhang, Guoan; Bhattacharya, Aditi; Perez-Cuesta, Luis M; Deinhardt, Katrin; Hoeffer, Charles A; Neubert, Thomas A; Gan, Wen-Biao; Klann, Eric; Chao, Moses V
2014-01-20; 1937-9145,Science signaling - id: 741242, year: 2014 Journal Article