Hwai-Jong (HJ) Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Hwai-Jong Cheng

Position Title
Professor and Chair

Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; Pathology & Laboratory Medicine; Neuroscience Graduate Group


Axon Guidance

My lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of axon guidance. We have used two model organisms, mouse and C. elegans, to study how molecules in the environment guide axons during embryonic development and how these environmental cues are interpreted inside the growing axon. Recently, we have also tried to address whether abnormalities in axon pruning can lead to developmental neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Select Publications

Davis, Z.W., Chapman, B., and Cheng, H.-J..  Increasing spontaneous retinal activity before eye opening accelerates the development of geniculate receptive fields. J. Neurosci. (In press) (2015).

Failor, S., Chapman, B., and Cheng, H.-J..  Retinal waves regulate afferent terminal targeting in the early visual pathway. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112: E2957-E2966 (2015).

Davis, Z.W., Sun, C., Derieg, B., Chapman, B., and Cheng, H.-J..  Epibatidine blocks eye-Specific segregation in ferret dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus during stage III retinal waves.  PLoS One 10(3): e0118783 (2015).

Speer, C.M., Sun, C., Liets, L.C., Stafford, B.K., Chapman, B. and Cheng, H.-J..  Eye-specific retinogeniculate segregation proceeds normally following disruption of patterned spontaneous retinal activity.  Neural Development 9:25 (2014).

Liu, W.-W., Chen, S.-Y., Cheng, C.-H., Cheng, H.-J.* and Huang, P.-H.*.  Blm-s, a BH3-only protein enriched in postmitotic immature neurons, is transcriptionally upregulated by p53 during DNA damage.  Cell Reports 9: 166-79 (2014). (*Co-corresponding authors)

Tseng, C.-H., Murray, K. D., Jou, M.-F., Hsu, S.-M., Cheng, H.-J. and Huang, P.-H.. Sema3E/Plexin-D1 mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in ovarian endometrioid cancer. PLoS One 6(4):e19396. (2011)

Chen, S.-Y., Huang, P.-H. and Cheng, H.-J.. Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1-mediated axon guidance involves TRIO-RAC-PAK small GTPase pathway signaling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108: 5861-5866 (2011)

Cheng, T.-W., Liu, X.-B., Faulkner, R. L., Stephan, A. H., Barres, B. A., Huberman, A. D., and Cheng H.-J.. Emergence of lamina-specific retinal ganglion cell connectivity by axon arbor retraction and synapse elimination. J. Neurosci. 30:16376-16382 (2010)

Vanderhaeghen, P. and Cheng, H.-J.. Guidance molecules in axon pruning and cell death. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 2:a001859 (2010)

Chen, S.-Y. and Cheng, H.-J.. Functions of axon guidance molecules in synapse formation. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 19:471-478 (2009)


Center for Neuroscience Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior (College of Biological Sciences);

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (School of Medicine);

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) Graduate Program;

Neuroscience Graduate Program;

Master Adviser: Neuroscience Graduate Program;

Director: Diagnostic and Research Electron Microscopy laboratory,Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (School of Medicine)