Jun Wang, M.D., Ph.D.

Jun Wang, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (TAMU/TAMHSC)
8447 Riverside Pkwy
2106 Medical Research and Education Building
Bryan, TX   77807-3260

Phone: 979-436-0389
Fax: 979-436-0086

Education and Post-Graduate Training

  • M.D., Tongji Medical University
  • Ph.D., Shanghai Brain Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley and at San Francisco


  • Slice electrophysiology: whole-cell patch-clamp recording, field recording, and cell-attached recording in striatal, VTA, or hippocampal slices from rats and mice
  • Mouse and viral genetics
  • Stereotaxic infusion of virus or neuronal tracers into rat and mouse brains. Retrograde labeling of projection neurons
  • Single neuron labeling, immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging
  • 3-D reconstruction of biocytin-infused neurons. Analysis of dendritic branches and spines
  • Dual-channel in vivo and ex vivo optogenetics and chemogenetics in rats and mice
  • Intermittent-access to alcohol 2-bottle choice drinking procedure, operant self-administration of alcohol, and locomotion test.

Research Interests

Our research focuses on identifying the neurobiological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as alcohol use disorders. We investigate the cellular and circuit alterations that occur in areas of the brain in response to excessive, pathological alcohol consumption. We are particularly interested in changes that occur in specific populations of neurons and in specific afferent projections to these neurons. We are also interested in contributions of these changes to excessive, pathological alcohol consumption. The result of the research will guide future efforts toward the development of more effective therapeutics for alcohol use disorders.

Using a combination of slice electrophysiology, optogenetics and chemogenetics, transgenic animals, and neuropharmacology, we currently investigate alcohol-mediated aberrant plasticity in the dorsal striatum, a major entry structure of the basal ganglia. The dorsal striatum is crucial for expression of habit and goal-directed behaviors that has recently been linked to addiction. The dorsal striatum receives a number of different glutamatergic inputs, including corticostriatal and amygdalostriatal afferents, and also contains two groups of principal neurons: dopamine D1 or D2 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1 or D2 MSNs, respectively). We are interested in elucidating how different afferent glutamatergic inputs in distinct types of neurons within the dorsal striatum are altered by excessive alcohol intake, and how such alterations contribute to excessive alcohol-drinking behaviors.

Selected Publications

  • Xiaoyan, Wei#, Tengfei Ma#, Yifeng Cheng, Cathy C.Y. Huang, Xuehua Wang, Jiayi Lu, Jun Wang.  Dopamine D1 or D2 receptor-expressing neurons in the central nervous system.  Addiction Biology, In press. (#Equal contribution)
  • Yifeng Cheng#, Cathy C.Y. Huang#, Tengfei Ma#, Xiaoyan Wei, Xuehua Wang, Jiayi Lu, and Jun Wang*.  Distinct Synaptic Strengthening of the Striatal Direct and Indirect Pathways Drives Alcohol Consumption. Biological Psychiatry, In Press. (#Equal contribution, *Corresponding author).   
  • Jun Wang*, Yifeng Cheng, Xuehua Wang, Emily Roltsch, Tengfei Ma, Hannah Gil, Sami Ben Hamida, and Dorit Ron*. Alcohol Elicits Functional and Structural Plasticity Selectively in Dopamine D1 Receptor-Expressing Neurons of the Dorsomedial Striatum. Journal of Neuroscience 35: 11634 – 11643 (2015). *Corresponding authors. This paper was highlighted in the “This Week in The Journal” section.
  • Segev Barak, Jun Wang, Somayeh Ahmadiantehrani, Sami Ben Hamida, Adrian P Kells, John Forsayeth, Krystof S Bankiewicz, and Dorit Ron. Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) Is an Endogenous Protector in the Mesolimbic System Against Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Relapse. Addiction Biology [Epub ahead of print] (2014). 
  • Sami Ben Hamida*, Emmanuel Darcq*, Jun Wang*, Su Wu, Khanhky Pharluong, Viktor Kharazia, and Dorit Ron. Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Alpha in the Dorsomedial Striatum Contributes to Excessive Ethanol-Drinking Behavior. Journal of Neuroscience 33:14369-14378 (2013). (*Equal contribution)
  • Jun Wang, Sami Ben Hamida, Emmanuel Darcq, Wenheng Zhu, Stuart L. Gibb, Maria Fe Lanfranco, Sebastien Carnicella, and Dorit Ron. Ethanol-Mediated Facilitation of AMPA Receptor Function in the Dorsomedial Striatum: Implication for Alcohol Drinking Behavior. The Journal of Neuroscience 32:15124 –15132 (2012).
  • Jun Wang, Maria Fe Lanfranco, Stuart L. Gibb, Quinn V. Yowell, Sebastien Carnicella, and Dorit Ron. Long-Lasting Adaptations of the NR2B-Containing NMDA Receptors in the Dorsomedial Striatum Play a Crucial Role in Alcohol Consumption and Relapse. The Journal of Neuroscience 30:10187-10198 (2010a).
  • Jun Wang, Sebastien Carnicella, Dao-Yao He, Somayeh Ahmadiantehrani, Segev Barak, Sami Ben Hamida, Viktor Kharazia, Agustin Zapata, Toni S. Shippenberg, and Dorit Ron. Nucleus Accumbens-Derived GDNF Is a Retrograde Enhancer of Dopaminergic Tone in the Mesocorticolimbic System. The Journal of Neuroscience 30: 14502-14512, (2010b).
  • Dorit Ron and Jun Wang. The NMDA Receptor and Alcohol Addiction. Chapter 4, pp 59-77. In: VanDongen AMJ, ed. Biology of the NMDA Receptor. Taylor and Francis/CRC Press, Boca Raton, (2008).
  • Rachel Jurd, Claire Thornton, Jun Wang, Ken Luong, Khanhky Phamluong, Viktor Kharazia, Stuart L. Gibb, and Dorit Ron. Mind Bomb-2 Is an E3 Ligase That Ubiquitinates the N-Methyl-D-aspartate Receptor NR2B Subunit in a Phosphorylation-dependent Manner. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 283:301-310 (2008).
  • Jun Wang, Sebastien Carnicella, Khanhky Phamluong, Jerome Jeanblanc, Jennifer A. Ronesi, Nadia Chaudhri, Patricia H. Janak, David M. Lovinger, and Dorit Ron. Ethanol Induces Long-Term Facilitation of NR2B-NMDA Receptor Activity in the Dorsal Striatum: Implications for Alcohol Drinking Behavior. The Journal of Neuroscience 27:3593-3602 (2007).
    (Faculty of 1000 Biology: http://www.f1000biology.com/article/id/1085799, factor 6 “must read” category).
  • Jorge J. Palop, Jeannie Chin, Erik D. Roberson, Jun Wang, Myo T. Thwin, Nga Bien-Ly, Jong Yoo, Kaitlyn O. Ho, Gui-Qiu Yu, Anatol Kreitzer, Steven Finkbeiner, Jeffrey L. Noebels, and Lennart Mucke. Aberrant Excitatory Neuronal Activity and Compensatory Remodeling of Inhibitory Hippocampal Circuits in Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease. Neuron 55:697-711 (2007).
  • John Bradley, Sarah R. Carter, Vikram R. Rao, Jun Wang, and Steven Finkbeiner. Splice Variants of the NR1 Subunit Differentially Induce NMDA Receptor-Dependent Gene Expression. The Journal of Neuroscience 26: 1065-1076 (2006).
  • Neesha Suvarna, Stephanie L. Borgland, Jun Wang, Khanhky Phamluong, Yves P. Auberson, Antonello Bonci, and Dorit Ron. Ethanol Alters Trafficking and Functional N-Methyl-D-aspartate Receptor NR2 Subunit Ratio via H-Ras. The Journal of Biological Chemistry280: 31450–31459 (2005).
  • Jun Wang, Mark F. Yeckel, Daniel Johnston, and Robert S. Zucker. Photolysis of Postsynaptic Caged Ca2+ Can Potentiate and Depress Mossy Fiber Synaptic Responses in Rat Hippocampal CA3 Pyramidal Neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology 91: 1596-1607 (2004).
  • Jun Wang*, Guiquan Chen, Bai Lu, and Chien-ping Wu. GDNF Acutely Potentiates Ca2+ Channels and Excitatory Synaptic Transmission in Midbrain Dopaminergic Neurons. Neurosignals 12: 78-88 (2003)
    *corresponding author
  • Jun Wang and Robert S. Zucker. Photolysis-Induced Suppression of Inhibition in Rat Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons. Journal of Physiology533: 757-763 (2001).

Wang Lab Personnel

  • Dr. Jun Wang – Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Tengfei Ma – Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr. Emily Roltsch Hellard – Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr. Chai-Yu (Cathy) Huang – Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Daisy Wang – Research Associate
  • Yifeng Cheng – PhD student
  • Jiaji (Ada) Lu– PhD student
  • Michelle Villarreal – Research Student
  • Britton Barbee – Research Student
  • Lauren Benefield – Research Student
  • Virginia Vance – Research Student
  • Christopher Arp – Research Student
  • James Brandon – Research Student
  • Eric Williams – Research Student

Former Lab Members

  • Aggie Migut – Medical Student, UT Health Science Center in Houston

Lab Phone: (979) 436-0339