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Symposium Leatures


Synaptic Scaffold Proteins in Neuronal Signaling and Development


Plenary Lecture

Synaptic Scaffold Proteins in Neuronal Signaling and Development

Professor Mingjie Zhang, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China


Synaptic scaffold proteins dictate the architecture of postsynaptic density (PSD) and therefore play critical roles in synaptic strength and plasticity. Numerous human genetic and genomic studies in recent years have revealed that mutations of genes encoding synaptic scaffold proteins are frequently associated with various psychiatric disorders, although the underpinning biological mechanisms are poorly understood. Detailed biochemical and structural dissections of scaffold protein-mediated complex organizations have been offering valuable insights in understanding the underlying mechanisms of PSD formation and function. These studies have also been providing some clues to why mutations of synaptic scaffolding proteins can lead to psychiatric disorders such as autisms, schizophrenia, and depressions. In this talk, I will discuss our systematic efforts in biochemical, structural and functional characterizations of synaptic scaffold protein-mediated signaling complex organization and regulation.


Biography of Professor Mingjie Zhang, PhD

Mingie Zhang

Prof. Mingjie Zhang obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Fudan University, Shanghai in 1988, and his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry in the University of Calgary, Canada in 1994. After a brief postdoctoral training in the Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Canada, he established his own laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 1995.  Prof Zhang is currently a Kerry Holdings Professor of Science, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Chair Professor in the Division of Life Science, HKUST.

Research in Prof. Zhang’s laboratory has been focusing on two areas in the past. The first area concerns the structural and biochemical basis of neuronal signaling complex organization by scaffold proteins. The second area is how neurons develop polarity during their development and maintain the polarity in their adulthood.  Zhang’s lab has been approaching these two fundamental questions in neuroscience by a combination of structural biology, biochemistry, and cell biology approaches. They have published more than 150 research articles in the prestigious scientific journals including Science, Cell, Mol Cell, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Neuron, Dev Cell, PNAS, EMBO J, etc. Prof. Zhang’s laboratory is recognized as a world-leading laboratory in the area of neuronal structural biology.  Additionally, Prof. Zhang has won a number of awards (e.g. 2006 State Natural Science Award, 2011 Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Prize for Scientific and technological Progress etc) for his excellence in scientific research. Prof. Zhang was elected as a member of Chinese Academy of Science in 2011. Prof. Zhang has been dedicating huge amount of his energy in training younger generation of scientists. More than a dozen of Ph.D. graduates and postdoctoral fellows trained in his lab have established their independent research groups around the world.