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Xiao-Bing Gao, PhD

Senior Research Scientist

Contact Information

Xiao-Bing Gao, PhD

Mailing Address

  • Comparative Medicine

    333 Cedar Street

    New Haven, CT 06510-

    United States



Fascinated by how the brain controls complex physiological functions and behaviors in higher animals, Dr. Gao pursued his career in neurobiology under the mentorship of the renowned neurophysiologist Professor Te-Pei Feng (AKA T. P. Feng) at the Shanghai Institute of Physiology, Chinese Academy of Science, obtaining his PhD in 1996. In the fall of the same year, he joined Dr. Anthony van den Pol’s laboratory as postdoctoral associate in the Section of Neurosurgery at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Trained as an electrophysiologist, Dr. Gao’s early interests laid in investigating the modulation of activity in developing and mature hypothalamic neurons by neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and neurotrophic factors. He is the first investigator to characterize the cellular functions of neuropeptides hypocretin/orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) in nerve cells in the central nervous system (CNS). After establishing an independent research group at Yale, his current interests are to understand how biological processes at molecular, cellular and systems levels lead to the emergence of physiological functions (such as energy balance and sleep/wake regulation) and complex behaviors (such as reward seek/addiction, stress coping strategy and social behaviors) critical to animal survival. The group’s major discoveries provide first evidence that experience-dependent neural plasticity in neuronal systems (such as the hypocretinergic and MCHergic systems) in the lateral hypothalamus underlies promotion of positive energy balance and maintenance of wakefulness and arousal, which may contribute to the development of insomnia, drug addiction and obesity-associated behavioral changes in animals.

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral Associate
    Yale University School of Medicine (2000)
  • PhD
    Shanghai Institute of Physiology (1996)
  • MS
    Beijing Normal University, Physiology (1993)
  • BS
    Nanjing University, Biology (1990)


  • On-demand Control of Arousal by Hypocretin/Orexin
    Beijing, Beijing, China 2021
    The 3rd Congress of Asia Society of Sleep Medicine (ASSM 2021)
  • Hypocretin/orexin: a bridge between energy state and mental state in animals
    Zoom conference 2020
    China Brain Science and Technology Conference
  • Hypocretin/orexin: from peptide to system.
    Jinan, Shandong, China 2019
    The 11th Symposium of Chinese Sleep Research Society
  • Hypocretin/orexin and hypoarousal in vertebrate animals
    New Orleans, LA, United States 2019
    Invited seminar. Tulane University Brain Institute, New Orlean, LA, USA.
  • An impaired arousal is responsible for dysregulated behavioral responses in obese animals
    Beijing, Beijing, China 2019
    Workshop on Sleep Regulation and Circadian Rhythm
  • The deficiency of hypocretin system and hypoarousal in obesity.
    Shanghai, Shanghai, China 2018
    Invited seminar. The Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
  • Neural plasticity in hypocretin neurons: the basis of hypocretinergic regulation of physiological and behavioral functions in animals.
    Chongqing, Chongqing, China 2015
    Invited seminar. Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.
  • Chasing behavioral trace: electrophysiological investigations of hypothalamic regulation of animal body and behavior.
    New Orleans, LA, United States 2014
    Invited seminar. Tulane Neuroscience Seminar Series. Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.
  • Electrophysiology in hypocretin/orexin neurons: an interface between "omes" and animal behaviors.
    Invited seminar. Dept. Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.
  • “Learning” in the hypothalamus.
    Shanghai, Shanghai, China 2011
    International Symposium on Brain Functions and Diseases.
  • Lateral Hypothalamic Control of Energy Homeostasis
    New Haven, CT, United States 2011
    The first annual symposium of Yale Program in Integrative Cell Signaling and Neurobiology of Metabolism (ICSNM)
  • Synaptic plasticity and sleep
    Chongqing, Chongqing, China 2010
    Chongqing International Symposium on Neuroscience
  • Yin and Yang in the lateral hypothalamus
    Bethesda, MD, United States 2009
    PWS Research Strategy Workshop
  • Synaptic plasticity in hypocretin neurons: re-setting arousal threshold
    Toronto, ON, Canada 2009
    Synaptic plasticity in hypocretin neurons: re-setting arousal threshold.
  • Learning and Adaptation in the Lateral Hypothalamus.
    New Haven, CT, United States 2008
    Seminar. John B Pierce Laboratory, New Haven, CT
  • Synaptic plasticity in mouse hypocretin/orexin neurons
    Oulu, Finland 2008
    Acta Physiologica International Symposium
  • Long-term potentiation underlies adaptive changes in hypocretin/orexin neurons.
    Shanghai, Shanghai, China 2008
    Invited Seminar
  • Experience-dependent synaptic plasticity in hypocretin neurons.
    Palo Alto, CA, United States 2008
    Sleep Medicine Grand Rounds Seminar, Center for sleep research, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
  • "Stay up late" induces synaptic plasticity in neurons in the brain
    Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China 2008
    Jiangsu University, Jiangsu, China.
  • Adenosinergic modulation of hypocretin/orexin-containing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus
    Minneapolis, MN, United States 2007
    21st Annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies
  • The Lateral Hypothalamus: from Peptide to Neuron.
    Shanghai, Shanghai, China 2004
    Invited seminar. The State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. Sponsored by Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission.

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Mentored Research Scientist Development AwardNIH2003
Scientist Development GrantAmerican Heart Association2001

Professional Service

New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration 2021 competition (NFRFE 2021) External Reviewer2021 - Present
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaNew Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) external reviewer2020
Swiss National Science FoundationExternal reviewer2020
Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of SciencesInstructor, Mini-Course on the hypothalamic control of physiological functions and behaviors in animals, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.2019
Vanderbilt University Diabetes Research and Training Center (DRTC)Pilot and Feasibility Project reviewer2019
Overcoming infertility, Yale Medicine Magazine - Present
National Institute of HealthNIH ZRG1 IFCN T 50 BRAINInitiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects (R01 and R34 applications) (ad hoc member)2018
National Institute of HealthNIH Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep (NNRS) study section (ad hoc member)2018
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, UK)BBSRC research grant reviewer2017
National Institute of HealthNIH Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep (NNRS) study section (ad hoc member)2017
National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)Key Program Grant reviewer2015 - 2018
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)NSERC Discovery Grant reviewer2015
French National Research AgencyFrench National Research Agency Grant reviewer2015
Wellcome TrustWellcome Trust Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship2014
National Institute of HealthNIH Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep (NNRS) study section (ad hoc member)2013
National Institute of HealthNIH Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep (NNRS) study section (ad hoc member)2012
United States-Israel Binational Science FoundationGrant Reviewer2012
National Library of Medicine (NLM)/National Institute of Health (NIH)G13 peer review committee of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)/NIH (ad hoc member)2011
Foundation for Prader-Willi ResearchGrant Reviewer2011
BBSRC, UKBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK2010 - 2011
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive SciencesSpeaker, Reproductive Sciences Seminar Program2010 - 2018
NIHNIH RG1 IFCN-H (02) M Member Conflict: Integrative Neuroscience (ad hoc member)2010 - 2011
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of CanadaExternal Reviewer2010
American Diabetes Association (ADA)Peer review of grant applications2009 - 2011
National Institute of HealthNIH Neuroendocrinology, neuroimmunology and behavior (NNB) study section (ad hoc member)2009
National Science FoundationPeer review of grant applications2008
Lack of Sleep Leads to Health Problems Like Obesity, Apple Podcasts - Present
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive SciencesMentor, The Discovery to Cure summer internship program2007 - 2017
Society for NeuroscienceMember1997 - Present

Departments & Organizations