Jian Xu, Ph.D.
I came to the Lombroso lab in 2005 as a postdoctoral associate after I completed my doctoral studies at Fudan University, China. When I arrived, I did not have much experience in neuroscience. Fortunately I was given enormous support from Dr. Lombroso and the other lab members. I gradually gained the essential lab techniques and felt comfortable on my own projects. I started to investigate the role of STEP in glutamate excitotoxicity. What I discovered was that STEP was differentially regulated by synaptic or extrasynaptic NMDAR stimulation. Synaptic stimulation led to the ubiquitination of STEP and its degradation, and the activation of pERK, but not p38. Extrasynaptic NMDAR stimulation led to the calpain-mediated cleavage of STEP and the activation of p-p38 but not ERK. This work eventually led to a publication in J Neuroscience (Xu et al., 2009).
More recently, I have been involved in the translational work examining the role of STEP in neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and schizophrenia (SZ). Our previous studies have established that STEP is dysregulated in both disorders, suggesting that STEP may be a promising novel therapeutic target for treatment of these disorders. We have started to screen for STEP inhibitors and I am in charge of this project and am testing the most promising analogs in AD and SZ mouse models.
I am really impressed by the lab’s enthusiasm and devotion to scientific research. Dr. Lombroso works closely with everyone and makes sure our training here is productive. He encourages us to attend seminars and conferences and to set up collaborations with top scientists in the field. I feel confident that my experience in the Lombroso lab will be helpful for my future career.