Zixu Mao, MD, PhD


Emory University School of Medicine

Office: 505-L Whitehead Biomedical Research Building

Phone: 404-712-8581; Lab Number: 404-712-9924

Fax: 404-727-0365

Email: zmao@emory.edu

Additional Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Emory University School of Medicine

Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, Room 505-L
615 Michael Street

Atlanta, Georgia 30322-3090

Additional Websites


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, 1999
  • PhD, Duke University, 1992
  • M.S., Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences, China
  • M.D., Southeast University School of Medicine, China


Research Area:
molecular and cellular mechanisms of neuronal stress response and their roles in the pathogenic processes of neurodegenerative diseases and acute neuronal injuries
Research Interests:
We study the mechansims by which neuronal cells control survival vs. death and differentiation vs. proliferation during cellular development and in more mature stages. De-regulation of these processes is believed to underlie the pathogenesis of neurological disorders ranging from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases to brain tumors. We are particularly interested in the roles of nuclear factors in regulating these central processes. In this context, we want to determine how signals specifying these distinct processes are relayed to the nucleus, what the key mediators are involved in the relaying process, what modifications to the nuclear factors are improtant in response, and how these modifications may control subsequent cellular response. As a model, we are currently focusing on the signaling and regulation of two proteins, a nuclear transcriptional factor MEF2 and a cellular kinase Cdk5. We are investigating the fundmantal roles that these factors may play in neurons using a wide range of molecular and cellular biological tools. By dissecting the signal transduction pathways and network that mediate nuclear response controlled via MEF2 and Cdk5, our studies may illustrate basic principles that modulate neuronal survival and death. Illustrating how these control and signaling mechanisms may be altered under pathological conditions will help reveal the pathological processes of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.