Photo of Ming-Hu Han

Ming-Hu Han

  • ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics
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  • Ph.D., Shanghai Institute of Physiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University School of Medicine

  • Faculty Fellowship, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


    Dr. Han is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Neuroscience. The Han Laboratory studies neurophysiological mechanisms of depression and alcohol addiction in rodent models.


  • 2015 -
    NARSAD Independent Investigator Award
    Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

  • 2013 -
    Faculty Council Award for Academic Excellence
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

  • 2012 -
    Dr. Harold & Golden Lamport Research Award for Excellence in Basic Science Research
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • 2011 -
    Rising Star Translational Research Award
    Johnson & Johnson and International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO)

  • 2011 -
    Travel Award
    American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP)

  • 2007 -
    Young Investigator Award
    National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD)


One of the most fundamental functions of the brain is the capacity to develop adaptive changes in response to environmental stimuli under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. These neural adaptations can occur at a variety of levels such as at the levels of ion channels, synaptic transmission, and integrative function of neuron and neural network, and they are believed to be responsible for governing behavioral/psychological functioning. Dr. Han’s laboratory is specifically interested in identifying the intrinsic plasticity of ion channels and neuronal excitability, and adaptive changes in neural network, that are induced by psychological stress and alcohol in the dopamine circuit of the ventral tegmental area, an emotion- and reward-related system. Research in Dr. Han’s laboratory focuses on the underlying mechanisms of these neuroadpations and how they mediate behavioral susceptibility and resilience to stress and alcohol in laboratory models of depression and alcohol dependence.

To understand the roles of neuroadaptations in mediating behavioral changes, the laboratory employs an up-down-up methodology: established behavior model - neuroadaptation - molecular/ionic mechanism - molecular/ionic manipulation - validation of neuronal function - behavioral test. The laboratory uses in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological techniques to identify neuroadaptations and investigate molecular/ionic mechanisms, and employs advanced gene manipulation approaches, including viral-mediated gene delivery, local knockouts of interested genes, and optogenetic tools, to conduct molecular/ionic manipulation followed by behavioral assays. The combination of these gene manipulation techniques and neurophysiology offers the laboratory a unique ability to explore the neurophysiological basis of depression and alcoholism.
For more information, visit Ming-Hu Han’s Laboratory of Cellular Neurophysiology.

Conte Center on Epigenetic Mechanisms of Depression


Friedman AK, Han MH. The Use of Herpes Simplex Virus in Ex Vivo Slice Culture. Current protocols in neuroscience / editorial board, Jacqueline N. Crawley ... [et al.] 2015; 72.

Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Walsh JJ, Guise KG, Heshmati M, Friedman AK, Dey A, Smith M, Rebusi N, Pfau M, Ables JL, Aleyasin H, Khibnik LA, Hodes GE, Ben-Dor GA, Deisseroth K, Shapiro ML, Malenka RC, Ibanez-Tallon I, Han MH, Russo SJ. Excitatory transmission at thalamo-striatal synapses mediates susceptibility to social stress. Nature neuroscience 2015 Jul; 18(7).

Bagot RC, Parise EM, Peña CJ, Zhang HX, Maze I, Chaudhury D, Persaud B, Cachope R, Bolaños-Guzmán CA, Cheer J, Deisseroth K, Han MH, Nestler EJ. Ventral hippocampal afferents to the nucleus accumbens regulate susceptibility to depression. Nature communications 2015; 6.

Heller EA, Cates HM, Peña CJ, Sun H, Shao N, Feng J, Golden SA, Herman JP, Walsh JJ, Mazei-Robison M, Ferguson D, Knight S, Gerber MA, Nievera C, Han MH, Russo SJ, Tamminga CS, Neve RL, Shen L, Zhang HS, Zhang F, Nestler EJ. Locus-specific epigenetic remodeling controls addiction- and depression-related behaviors. Nature neuroscience 2014 Dec; 17(12).

Koo JW, Lobo MK, Chaudhury D, Labonté B, Friedman A, Heller E, Peña CJ, Han MH, Nestler EJ. Loss of BDNF signaling in D1R-expressing NAc neurons enhances morphine reward by reducing GABA inhibition. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2014 Oct; 39(11).

Li B, Jie W, Huang L, Wei P, Li S, Luo Z, Friedman AK, Meredith AL, Han MH, Zhu XH, Gao TM. Nuclear BK channels regulate gene expression via the control of nuclear calcium signaling. Nature neuroscience 2014 Aug; 17(8).

Walsh JJ, Han MH. The heterogeneity of ventral tegmental area neurons: Projection functions in a mood-related context. Neuroscience 2014 Jun; 282C.

Friedman AK, Walsh JJ, Juarez B, Ku SM, Chaudhury D, Wang J, Li X, Dietz DM, Pan N, Vialou VF, Neve RL, Yue Z, Han MH. Enhancing depression mechanisms in midbrain dopamine neurons achieves homeostatic resilience. Science 2014 Apr; 344(6181): 313-319.

Maze I, Chaudhury D, Dietz DM, Von Schimmelmann M, Kennedy PJ, Lobo MK, Sillivan SE, Miller ML, Bagot RC, Sun H, Turecki G, Neve RL, Hurd YL, Shen L, Han MH, Schaefer A, Nestler EJ. G9a influences neuronal subtype specification in striatum. Nature neuroscience 2014 Apr; 17(4).

Walsh JJ, Friedman AK, Sun H, Heller EA, Ku SM, Juarez B, Burnham VL, Mazei-Robison MS, Ferguson D, Golden SA, Koo JW, Chaudhury D, Christoffel DJ, Pomeranz L, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Nestler EJ, Han MH. Stress and CRF gate neural activation of BDNF in the mesolimbic reward pathway. Nature Neuroscience 2014 Jan; 17(1): 27-29.

Chaudhury D, Walsh JJ, Friedman AK, Juarez B, Ku SM, Koo JW, Ferguson D, Tsai HC, Pomeranz L, Christoffel D, Nectow AR, Ekstrand M, Domingos A, Mazie-Robison M, Mouzon E, Lobo MK, Neve RL, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Deisseroth K, Nestler EJ, Han MH. Rapid regulation of depression-like behaviors by control of midbrain dopamine neurons. Nature 2013 Jan; 493(7433): 532-536.

Russo SJ, Murrough JW, Han MH, Charney DS, Nestler EJ. Neurobiology of resilience. Nature Neuroscience 2012 Nov; 15(11): 1475-1484.

Koo JW, Mazei-Robison MS, Chaudhury D, Juarez B, LaPlant Q, Ferguson D, Feng J, Sun H, Scobie KN, Damez-Werno D, Crumiller M, Ohnishi YN, Ohnishi YH, Mouzon E, Dietz DM, Lobo MK, Neve RL, Russo SJ, Han MH, Nestler EJ. BDNF is a negative modulator of morphine action. Science 2012 Oct; 338(6103): 124-128.

Kurita M, Holloway T, García-Bea A, Kozlenkov A, Friedman AK, Moreno JL, Heshmati M, Golden SA, Kennedy PJ, Takahashi N, Dietz DM, Mocci G, Gabilondo AM, Hanks J, Umali A, Callado LF, Gallitano AL, Neve RL, Shen L, Buxbaum JD, Han MH, Nestler EJ, Meana JJ, Russo SJ, González-Maeso J. HDAC2 regulates atypical antipsychotic responses through the modulation of mGlu2 promoter activity. Nature Neuroscience 2012 Sep; 15(9): 1245-1254.

Mazei-Robison MS, Koo JW, Friedman AK, Lansink CS, Robison AJ, Vinish M, Krishnan V, Kim S, Siuta MA, Galli A, Niswender KD, Appasani R, Horvath MC, Neve RL, Worley PF, Snyder SH, Hurd YL, Cheer JF, Han MH, Russo SJ, Nestler EJ. Role for mTOR signaling and neuronal activity in morphine-induced adaptations in ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. Neuron 2011 Dec; 72(6): 977-990.

Cao JL, Covington HE 3rd, Friedman AK, Wilkinson MB, Walsh JJ, Cooper DC, Nestler EJ, Han MH. Mesolimbic dopamine neurons in the brain reward circuit mediate susceptibility to social defeat and antidepressant action. Journal of Neuroscience 2010 Dec; 30(49): 16453-16458.

Lobo MK, Covington HE, Chaudhury D, Friedman AK, Sun H, Damez-Werno D, Dietz DM, Zaman S, Koo JW, Kennedy PJ, Mouzon E, Mogri M, Neve RL, Deisseroth K, Han MH, Nestler EJ. Cell type-specific loss of BDNF signaling mimics optogenetic control of cocaine reward. Science 2010 Oct; 330(6002): 385-390.

Cao JL, Vialou VF, Lobo MK, Robison AJ, Neve RL, Cooper DC, Nestler EJ, Han MH. Essential role of the cAMP-cAMP response-element binding protein pathway in opiate-induced homeostatic adaptations of locus coeruleus neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Sep; 107(39): 17011-17016.

Wallace DL, Han MH, Graham DL, Green TA, Vialou V, Iniguez SD, Cao JL, Kirk A, Chakravarty S, Kumar A, Krishnan V, Neve RL, Cooper DC, Bolanos CA, Barrot M, McClung CA, Nestler EJ. CREB regulation of nucleus accumbens excitability mediates social isolation-induced behavioral deficits. Nature Neuroscience 2009 Feb; 12(2): 200-209.

Krishnan V, Han MH, Graham DL, Berton O, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Laplant Q, Graham A, Lutter M, Lagace DC, Ghose S, Reister R, Tannous P, Green TA, Neve RL, Chakravarty S, Kumar A, Eisch AJ, Self DW, Lee FS, Tamminga CA, Cooper DC, Gershenfeld HK, Nestler EJ. Molecular adaptations underlying susceptibility and resistance to social defeat in brain reward regions. Cell 2007 Oct; 131(2): 391-404.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Han did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2014 and/or 2015: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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