Jean-Ju Chung, PhD

Assistant Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology

Departments & Organizations

Cellular & Molecular Physiology

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics and Development | Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and Physiology


Jean-Ju L. Chung received her bachelors and masters degree from Seoul National University, Korea and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2007. She was a postdoctoral fellow with David E. Clapham in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. She joined Yale's Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology as a faculty member in September, 2015.

Her research is devoted to investigating cellular signaling via the membrane receptors and ion channels, with a current emphasis on mature spermatozoan motility and fertilization capacity. She has focused her efforts on the primary calcium channel of spermatozoa, CatSper, and has defined its subunits, its distribution in spermatozoa, its function in capacitation, and its effects on fertility. The Chung laboratory applies novel technologies to sperm biology and reproductive research including super-resolution imaging methods, and is continuing to study physiologically relevant molecular changes during mammalian fertilization.

Education & Training

PhD Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Neuroscience and Biochemistry (2007)
MS Seoul National University, Neuroendocrinology (1999)
BS Seoul National University, Molecular Biology (1997)
Instructor Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston
Postdoctoral fellow Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston

Honors & Recognition

  • Goodman-Gilman Yale Scholar Award (2015)

  • Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology (KSMCB) Travel Grant Award (2014)

  • Dr. M. Juda Folkman Research AwardChildren's Hospital Boston (2014)

  • Dr. M. Juda Folkman Research AwardChildren's Hospital Boston (2011)

  • Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award Pre-doctoral FellowshipNIH (2004)

  • Pre-doctoral FellowshipAmerican Heart Association (2002)

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Contact Info

Jean-Ju Chung, PhD
Lab Location
E07Sterling Hall of Medicine, B-Wing
333 Cedar Street

New Haven, CT 06510
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Office Location
E36CSterling Hall of Medicine, B-Wing
333 Cedar Street

New Haven, CT 06510
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Mailing Address
Cellular & Molecular PhysiologyYale School of Medicine, SHM-B147
333 Cedar street

New Haven, CT 06510

Ion Channels & Reproductive Physiology Lab @ Yale

An Exotic Cell with the Sac to Spill

Mammalian sperm, a highly specialized cell, has a well defined cap (acrosome) that covers of the sperm head and elaborate cytoskeletal structures in the tail. Shown here is an x-y projection of three dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) image of a sperm head with the connecting sperm tail from transgenic mice expressing EGFP in the head (green) and DsRed in mitochondrial sheath (red). Lectins (cyan) are used to probe the unique distribution of glycoproteins over the acrosome edge in the head and the flagella membrane.

Linear Ca2+ Signaling Domains in Flagella

Precisely localized, scaffolded Ca2+ channel complexes are essential for proper Ca2+ signaling. In the sperm principal piece, which lacks ER and mitochondria, highly organized Ca2+ channels and signaling molecules in the plasma membrane are responsible for localizing Ca2+ signals (Chung et al, 2014, Cell 157:808-822). The sperm-specific calcium channel, CatSper, transduces Ca2+ signals that mediate hyperactivated motility in the mouse spermatozoa. Three dimensional-photoactivated localization microscopy (3D-PALM) reveals that CatSper channels are organized in four linear domains along the flagellum. Shown here is an x-y projection of two sperm tails, with each color representing the relative distance from the focal plane along the z-axis. This compartmentalized organization may help tune the Ca2+ signaling, thus enable faster engagement of effectors. Because sperm rotate about their longitudinal axis as they rheotax (Miki and Clapham, 2013, Curr. Biol. 23: 443-452), the multilinear arrangement of CatSper may conserve space and enhance detection of finite signals.