Ying Zhang  

Ying Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor,
Department of Medical Neuroscience,
Dalhousie University

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Tel: (902) 494-6908

Research

Electrophysiology of neurons

Dr. Ying Zhang studies the electrophysiology of neurons and how various ion channels shape the firing properties of neurons within functioning neural networks. Her expertise complements the work of her Mobility Project colleagues, enhancing the group’s overall understanding of the spinal cord circuits that control walking. Ultimately, this knowledge will contribute to potential new therapies for restoring mobility to people with injuries or diseases of the spinal cord.

Dr. Zhang has received a BRC Knowledge Translation grant and funding from Dalhousie University, along with several large multi-year grants, from NSERC, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Foundation for Innovation, to:

  • the electrophysiological properties of different interneurons in the spinal cord, and how these properties are modulated under different physiological and pathological conditions
  • how intrinsic properties of spinal interneurons develop during embryonic and postnatal stages
  • molecular events that control the subdivision of molecularly-defined spinal interneurons and their functions in motor activities.


She works extensively with Drs. Vic Rafuse, Jim Fawcett, Angelo Iulianella and Turgay Akay. These researchers form the laboratory-based nucleus of the Mobility Project.

Academic background

Originally from China, Ying Zhang completed a B.Sc. in biophysics and physiology, and an M.Sc. in physiology, at Beijing University. Her interest in the role of ion channels within neural networks led her first to Germany, where she worked as a visiting scholar and research assistant, and then to the United States, where she obtained a PhD in neurobiology and behaviour at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In 2003, she became a postdoctoral research associate at the prestigious Salk Institute for Biological Study in San Diego, California. Attracted by the collegial atmosphere and growing expertise in spinal cord biology at Dalhousie University, she joined the university’s Department of Medical Neuroscience in 2010.

 Selected Publications

Joanna Borowska, Christopher T Jones, Dylan Deska-Gauthier, and Ying Zhang. (2015).  Distinct V3 interneuron subpopulations in the mouse spinal cord undergo different postnatal maturation processes. Neuroscience. (295): 221-8.

Jeremy Toma, Basavaraj Shettar, Peter Chipman, devanand Pinto, Joanna Borowska, Justin Ichida, James Fawcett, Ying Zhang, and Kevin Eggan, Victor Rafuse. (2015).  Motoneurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells develop mature phenotypes typical of endogenous spinal motoneurons. Journal of Neuroscience. 35(3): 1291-306.

Magown, P, Shettar, B, Zhang, Y*, Rafuse, VF* *co-corresponding authors. (2015).  Direct optical activation of skeletal muscle fibers efficiently controls muscle contraction and attenuates denervation atrophy due to injury. Nature Communication. (6): 8506.

Jake Blacklaws, Dylan Deska-Gauthier, Christopher T Jones, Yanina L. Petracca, Mingwei Liu, Han Zhang, James Fawcett, Joel C. Glover, Guillermo M. Lanuza and Ying Zhang. (2015).  Sim1 is required for the migration and axonal projections of V3 interneurons in the developing mouse spinal cord.  Developmental Neurobiology. 75(9): 1003-17.

Chipman PH, Zhang Y, Rafuse VF. (2014).  A stem-cell based bioassay to critically assess the pathology of dysfunctional neuromuscular junctions. PLoS One. 9(3)

Zhang J, Lanuza GM, Britz O, Wang Z, Siembab VC, Zhang Y, Velasquez T, Alvarez FJ, Frank E, Goulding M.(2014).  V1 and V2b interneurons secure the alternating flexor-extensor motor activity mice require for limbed locomotion.  Neuron.

Borowska J, Jones CT, Zhang H, Blacklaws J, Goulding M, Zhang Y. (2013).  Functional subpopulations of V3 interneurons in the mature mouse spinal cord. J Neurosci. vol. 33(47): 18533-65.

 J. W. Chopek, R. M. Brownstone, Y. Zhang. (2015). Connectivity of spinal V3 interneurons. Society for Neuroscience

H. Zhang, H. Hamodat, Y. Zhang. (2014).   V3 spinal interneurons are crucial in regulating weightloading movement. Society for Neuroscience

Han Zhang, Mingwei Liu, Ying Zhang. (2014).  V3 spinal interneurons are crucial in regulating over-ground locomotion.  International MotoNeuron Meeting

Dylan Deska-Gauthier, Jake Blacklaws, Ying Zhang. (2014).  Characterization of Calretinin positive subpopulation of V3 spinal interneurons.  International MotoNeuron Meeting

Y. Zhang, J. Blacklaws, J. Borowska, G. Lanuza, M. Goulding, D. Deska-Gauthier . (2013) The function of Sim1 in the development of different V3 subpopulations in the mouse spinal cord. Society for Neuroscience

Dylan Deska-Gauthier, Jake Blacklaws, Ying Zhang. (2013).  The Characterization of calretinin expressing V3 interneurons in the developing mouse spinal cord: How Sim1 affects embryonic calretinin expression. Canadian Association of Neuroscience

 Joanna Borowska, Chris Jones, Han Zhang, Jake Blacklaws, Ying Zhang. (2013).  Functional subpopulations of v3 interneurons in the adult mouse spinal cord. Spinal cord: restoration and repair

 Jake Blacklaws, Dylan Deska-Gauthier, Ying Zhang. (2013).  Sim1 is required for proper migration and axon projection of V3 interneurons in the developing mouse spinal cord. The spinal cord: the functional restoration and repair

Joanna Borowska, Han Zhang, Jake Blacklaws, Ying Zhang. (2012).  The subclassification of V3 interneurons andtheir functions inlocomotion in mouse spinal cord. Gorden Research Conference on Molecular and cellular neurobiology

Blacklaws, J, Lanuza, G, Goulding, M., Zhang, Y. (2012).  Sim1is Required for Proper Migration and Axon Projection of V3 Interneurons DuringDevelopment of the Mouse Spinal Cord 6th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting

Zhang J, Lanuza GM, Wang Z, Zhang Y, Velasquez T, Frank E and Goulding M (2010). Two classes of inhibitory interneurons coordinately generate the alternating flexor-extensor motor activity needed for limbed locomotion. (In preparation).

Geiman, E., Zhang, Y., Narayan, S., Lanuza, GM, Kiehn, O., Glover, J., and Goulding, M. (2008). Characterization and subclassification of V3 interneurons in the mouse spinal cord. (In preparation).

Zhang, Y, Narayan, S, Geiman, E, Lanuza, GM, Velasquez, T, Shanks, B, Akay, T, Dyck, J, Gosnach, S, Fan, C-M, Goulding, M (2008). V3 spinal neurons are necessary for generating a robust and balanced locomotor rhythm. Neuron 60, 84 -97. (Reviewed and recommended by Neuron, Nature Reviews Neuroscience and Faculty of 1000)