Jun Wang, MD, PhD

Jun Wang, MD, PhD

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

  • MD, Tongji Medical University
  • PhD, Shanghai Brain Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley and at San Francisco

Dr. Wang's Google Scholar page can be found here


  • Slice electrophysiology including whole-cell patch-clamp recording, field recording, and cell-attached recording in rodent striatal, midbrain, and hippocampal slices
  •  Ex vivo and in vivo dual-channel optogenetics and chemogenetics
  • Mouse, rat, and viral genetics
  • Stereotaxic viral infusion, rabies-mediated monosynaptic tracing of neural circuits
  • Single neuron labeling, immunohistochemistry, and confocal imaging
  • 3-D reconstruction of biocytin-infused neurons, analysis of dendritic branches and spines
  • Operant alcohol self-administration, intermittent-access 2-bottle choice drinking procedure, and locomotion test 

Research Interests

Cellular and Circuit Neurobiology of Alcohol Use Disorder 

Dr. Jun Wang's research focuses on identifying the neurobiological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as alcohol use disorders. His group investigates the cellular and circuit alterations that occur in areas of the brain in response to excessive, pathological alcohol consumption. They are particularly interested in changes that occur at specific afferent projections onto distinct neuronal populations. They are also interested in contributions of these changes to excessive, pathological alcohol consumption. The results of the research will guide future efforts toward the development of more effective therapeutics for alcohol use disorders.

Dr. Wang participates in graduate training as a member of the faculty in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and the Medical Science PhD program in the College of Medicine. 

On-Going Projects

1. Explore alcohol-mediated input- and cell type-specific plasticity in the striatum

Using a combination of slice electrophysiology, optogenetics and chemogenetics, transgenic animals, and neuropharmacology, Wang's group currently investigates alcohol-mediated aberrant plasticity in the dorsal striatum, a major entry structure of the basal ganglia. The dorsal striatum is crucial for habit learning and goal-directed behaviors that are altered in addiction. The dorsal striatum receives several 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). They 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.


2. Ex vivo and in vivo optogenetic reversal of alcohol-mediated circuit-specific plasticity

The few available medications for alcoholisms have limited efficacy and often fail to prevent relapse to alcohol, perhaps because they do not reverse the alcohol-evoked long-term synaptic plasticity, which is believed to drive alcohol seeking and relapse. This project employs dual-channel optogenetics ex vivo and in vivo to reverse alcohol-evoked synaptic plasticity, thereby persistently reducing alcohol seeking and relapse. Long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) will be induced indentified inputs to striatal D1 or D2 MSNs.


Grant Support

  • 2012-2018, Ethanol and Glutamergic Transmission in the Dorsal Striatum, R01 NIAAA
  • 2017-2022, Synaptic Plasticity and Alcohol Use Disorder, U01 NIAAA

Selected Publications

  • Tengfei Ma#, Yifeng Cheng#, Emily Roltsch Hellard, Xuehua Wang, Jiayi Lu, Xinsheng Gao, Cathy C.Y. Huang, Xiao-Yan Wei, Jun-Yuan Ji, and Jun Wang. Bidirectional and Long-Lasting Control of Alcohol-Seeking Behavior by Corticostriatal LTP and LTD. Nature Neuroscience, 21:373-383 (2018). 
  • Xiaoyan, Wei#, Tengfei Ma#, Yifeng Cheng, Cathy C.Y. Huang, Xuehua Wang, Jiayi Lu, and Jun Wang.  Dopamine D1 or D2 Receptor-Expressing Neurons in the Central Nervous System. Addiction Biology, 23:569-584 (2017). (#Equal contribution)
  • Cathy C.Y. Huang#, Tengfei Ma#, Emily Roltsch Hellard#, Xuehua Wang, Amutha Selvamani, Jiayi Lu, Farida Sohrabji, and Jun Wang. Stroke Triggers Nigrostriatal Plasticity and Increases Alcohol Consumption in Rats. Scientific Reports, 7:2501 (2017)
  • Tengfei Ma, Britton Barbee, Xuehua Wang, and Jun Wang. Alcohol Induces Input-Specific Aberrant Synaptic Plasticity in the Rat Dorsomedial Striatum. Neuropharmacology, 123: 46-54 (2017).
  • 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, 81: 918-929 (2017)
  • 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. 
  • 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 20:629-642 (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).
  • 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).
A full publication list can be found here:

Wang Lab Personnel

  • Dr. Jun Wang – Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Tengfei Ma – Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Daisy Wang – Research Associate
  • Yifeng Cheng – PhD student
  • Jiayi (Ada) Lu – PhD student
  • Annalise Binette - PhD student
  • Himanshu Gangal - PhD student 
  • Sebastian Melo – Research Student
  • Nathaniel Teplitskiy – Research Student
  • Jared Jerger – Research Student
  • Xueyi Xie – Research Student
  • Emily Disney – Research Student 
  • Madalyn Newell - Research Student
  • Taylor Davis - Research Student

Former Lab Members

  • Emily A. Roltsch Hellard – Former postdoctoral fellow 
  • Cathy Huang – Postdoctoral Fellow, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • Xiaoyan Wei – The Fourth Military Medical University, China
  • Aggie Migut – Medical Student, UT Health Science Center in Houston, 2015
  • Meagan Coner – Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Stony Brook University, 2016
  • Britton Barbee – Graduate Program in Molecular and Systems Pharmacology, Emory University, 2017
  • Chris Arp – Graduate Program in Chemistry, New York University, 2017
  • Bradely Jones  – Texas A&M Neuroscience Program 2017

 Lab Phone: 979.436.0339