Full time faculty

Adjunct professor

Chair professor


Minmin Luo

Minmin Luo, Ph.D.
B.S. (Psychology, Beijing University, China, 1995) 
M.S. (Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1997) 
Ph.D. (Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, 2000; Advisor: DJ Perkel)
Research Experience
Postdoctoral Research Associate, 12/1999 – 07/2004 Advisor: Lawrence C. Katz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University
Investigator and Laboratory Head, 08/2004 – 9/2005 Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China 
Investigator, 9/2005-present National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, China
Professor, 3/2009 – present, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, China 
Research Area
Reward and punishment motivate animal behaviors, produce the feelings of pleasure and disappointment, and guide learning and memory formation. They are a matter of life and death for an individual as well as the species, and affect mood and emotion in our daily life. Mice share with humans key features of reward- and punishment-related behaviors and the underlying neural pathways. Using genetically modified mice as the model system, my laboratory studies how neural circuits organize behavioral responses to reward and punishment. We focus on the dorsal raphe nucleus and the medial habenula, as well as their interconnected brain areas. Using electrophysiological and optical approaches, we record the activity patterns of genetically identified neuron types from behaving mice. We also combine optogenetics and chemogenetics to examine how stimulation, inhibition, or lesion of specific neurons affects animal behaviors. Finally, we carry out whole-cell patch recordings from brain slices to study the effects of drugs and cellular signal transduction pathways. The dysfunctions of reward and punishment processing are associated with several devastating psychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Thus, our study not only help understand the neurobiological basis of some fundamental animal behaviors but also may facilitate clinical efforts toward the cure of mental diseases. 
Research papers£º
1. Luo J., Feng Q, Wei LCA, Luo MCA (2017) Optogenetic activation of dorsal raphe neurons rescues the autistic-like social deficits in Shank3 knockout mice. Cell Res (in press).
2. Zhang J, Tan L, Ren Y, Liang J, Lin R, Feng Q, Zhou J, Hu F, Ren J, Wei C, Yu T, Zhuang Y, Bettler B, Wang F, Luo MCA (2016) Presynaptic excitation via GABAB receptors in habenula cholinergic neurons regulates fear memory expression. Cell 166:716–728 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.06.026. 
3. Li Y, Zhong W, Wang D, Feng Q, Liu Z, Zhou J, Jia C, Hu F, Zeng J, Guo Q, Fu L, Luo MCA (2016) Serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus encode reward signals. Nature Comms 7:10503 doi: 10.1038/ncomms10503.
4. Guo Q*, Zhou J*, Feng Q, Lin R, Gong H, Luo Q, Zeng S, Luo MCA, Fu LCA (2015) Multi-channel fiber photometry for population neuronal activity recording. Biomedical Optics Express 6:3919-3931. doi: 10.1364/BOE.6.003919.
5. Wang D, He X, Zhao Z, Feng Q, Lin R, Sun Y, Ding T, Xu FCA, Luo MCA, Zhan CCA  (2015) Whole-brain mapping of the direct inputs and axonal projections of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons. Front. Neuroanat. DOI 10.3389/fnana.2015.00040. 
6. Guo Q, Wang D, He X, Feng Q, Lin R, Xu F, Fu L, Luo MCA (2015) Whole-brain mapping of inputs to projection neurons and cholinergic interneurons in the dorsal striatum. PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123381. 
7. Zhou J, Jia C, Feng Q, Bao J, Luo MCA (2015) Prospective coding of dorsal raphe reward signals by the orbitofrontal cortex. J Neurosci 35:2717-2730. 
8. Liu Z*, Zhou J*, Li Y, Hu F, Wang D, Lu Y, Ma M, Feng Q, Zhang J, Zeng J, Bao, Kim J, Chen Z, Mestikawy SE, Luo MCA (2014) Dorsal raphe neurons signal reward through 5-HT and glutamate. Neuron 81:1360–1374. (F1000 recommendation)
9. Wang S, Tan Y, Zhang J, Luo MCA (2013) Pharmacogenetic activation of midbrain dopamine neurons induces hyperactivity. Neurosci Bulletin 29:517-524.
10. Zhan CCA, Zhou J, Feng Q, Zhang J, Lin S, Bao J, Wu P, Luo MCA (2013) Acute and long-term suppression of feeding behavior by POMC neurons in the brainstem and hypothalamus, respectively. J Neurosci 33:3624 –3632. (F1000 recommendation)
11. Hu F, Ren J, Zhang J, Zhong W, Luo MCA (2012) Atrial natriuretic peptide blocks synaptic transmission by activating Phosphodiesterase 2A and eliminating basal PKA activity in presynaptic terminals. PNAS 109: 17681–17686. (F1000 recommendation)
12. Ma M, Luo MCA (2012) Optogenetic activation of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons modulates neuronal excitability and sensory responses in the main olfactory bulb. J Neurosci 32:10105-10116. (TWIJ feature article). 
13. Gong R*, Ding C*, Hu J*, Lu Y, Liu F, Mann E, Xu F, Cohen MB and Luo MCA (2011) Role for the membrane receptor guanylyl cyclase-C in attention deficiency and hyperactive behavior. Science 333:1642-1646. 
14. Ren J, Qin C, Hu F, Tan J, Qiu L, Zhao S, Feng G, Luo MCA (2011) Habenula "cholinergic" neurons co-release glutamate and acetylcholine and activate postsynaptic neurons via distinct transmission modes. Neuron 69:445-452. (Cover; F1000 recommendation)
15. Zhan C, Luo MCA (2010) Diverse patterns of odor representation by neurons in the anterior piriform cortex of awake mice. J Neurosci 30:16662–16672. 
16. Han J, Luo MCA (2010) Loss of CO2 sensing by the olfactory system of CNGA3 knockout mice. Curr Zoology 56: 793−799.
17. Gao L, Hu J, Zhong C, Luo MCA (2010) Integration of CO2 and odorant signals in the mouse olfactory bulb. Neuroscience 170:881–892.
18. Tan J, Savigner A, Ma M, and Luo MCA (2010) Odor information processing by the olfactory bulb analyzed in gene-targeted mice. Neuron 65:912-926. (Video abstract) 
19. Sun L, Wan H, Hu J, Han J, Matsunami H, and Luo MCA (2009) Guanylyl cyclase-D in the olfactory CO2 neurons is activated by bicarbonate. PNAS 106:2041-2046.
20. Qin C, Luo MCA (2009) Neurochemical phenotypes of the afferent and efferent projections of the mouse medial habenula. Neuroscience 161:827-37 
21. Fan S, Luo MCA (2009) The organization of feedback projections in a pathway important for processing pheromonal signals. Neuroscience 161:489-500
22. Yan Z, Tan J, Qin C, Lu Y, Ding C, and Luo MCA (2008) Precise circuitry links bilaterally symmetric olfactory maps. Neuron 58:613–624. (Featured with a preview)
23. Bian X, Yanagawa Y, Chen WR, and Luo MCA (2008) Cortical-like functional organization of the pheromone-processing circuits in the medial amygdala. J Neurophysiol 99:77-86.
24. Hu J*, Zhong C*, Ding C, Chi Q, Walz A, Mombaerts P, Matsunami H, and Luo MCA (2007) Detection of near-atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by an olfactory subsystem. Science 317:953-957. 
25. Luo MCA, Fee, MS, and Katz, LC (2003) Encoding pheromonal signals in the accessory olfactory bulb of behaving mice. Science 299:1196-1201 (article, cover, and News and Views; Faculty 1000 recommendation).
26. Luo M and Perkel, DJ (2002) Intrinsic properties and synaptic input for neurons within an avian motor thalamic nucleus during the phase crucial for song learning. J Neurophysiol 88:1903-1914.
27. Luo MCA and Katz, LC (2001) Response correlation maps of neurons in the mammalian olfactory bulb. Neuron 32:1165-1179.
28. Luo M, Ding L, and Perkel DJCA (2001) An avian basal ganglia pathway essential for vocal learning forms closed topographic loops. J Neurosci 21:6836-45.
29. Luo M, and Perkel DJCA (1999) A GABAergic, strongly inhibitory projection to a thalamic nucleus in the zebra finch song system. J Neurosci 19:6700-11.
30. Luo M, and Perkel DJCA (1999) Long-range GABAergic projection in a circuit essential for vocal learning. J Comp Neurol 403: 68-84.
31. Luo MCA, Li Y, Zhong W (2016) Do dorsal raphe 5-HT neurons encode “beneficialness”? Neurobiology of Learning and Memory DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2016.08.008. 
32. Luo MCA, Zhou, J, Liu Z (2015) Reward processing by the dorsal raphe nucleus: 5-HT and beyond. Learning Memory 22:452-460. DOI: 10.1101/lm.037317.114.  
33. Luo MCA (2011) Long-range intracortical excitation shapes olfactory processing. Neuron 72:1-3.  
34. Luo MCA, Sun L, and Hu J (2009) Neural detection of gases—carbon dioxide, oxygen—in vertebrates and invertebrates. Curr Opinion Neurobiol 19£º354-361. 
35. Luo MCA (2008) The Necklace Olfactory System in Mammals. J Neurogenetics 22:229-238.
36. Luo MCA and Katz LC (2004) Encoding pheromones by the mammalian vomeronasal system. Curr Opinion Neurobiol 14:428-34.
Awards and grants 
2002 – 2007, Career Awards in the Biomedical Sciences, Burroughs Wellcome Fund (Declined in 2005)
2006 – 2009, Human Frontier Science Projects Young Investigator Grant (Coapplicant with H. Matsunami at Duke University)
2006 – 2009, Young Investigator Award, National Natural Sciences Foundation of China
2009 CT Chan Award for Outstanding Young Neuroscientists
2011 China Youth Science and Technology Award
2016 Wu Jieping- Paul Jassen Medical – Pharmaceutical Award


Tsinghua University,Beijing,China,100084
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