Wenzhen Duan, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.

Headshot of Wenzhen Duan
  • Director, Translational Neurobiology Laboratory
  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Research Interests

Neurodegenerative disorders; Huntington's Disease; Parkinson's disease; Neutrotrophin; Sirtuins; Energy metabolism; biomarkers ...read more


Wenzhen Duan is a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neuroscience, and the director of Translational Neurobiology Laboratory in the Division of Neurobiology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She received her medical training from Shanxi Medical University in China in 1992 and Ph.D. from Peking Union Medical College in China in 1998. After postdoctoral training at the University of Kentucky and National Institute on Aging with Dr. Mark P. Mattson, she became an Instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2004. The research in her laboratory centers on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases with a focus on developing novel therapeutics and biomarkers for Huntington’s disease. Duan has a great time mentoring postdoctoral fellows and students and collaborating with the incredible people here at Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

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  • Director, Translational Neurobiology Laboratory
  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions



  • Ph.D.; Peking Union Medical College (China) (1998)
  • M.D.; Shanxi Medical College (China) (1992)
  • M.S.; Shanxi Medical College (China) (1995)

Additional Training

  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 2000

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The goal of our laboratory is to understand disease pathogenesis, and develop therapeutics and biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases with focus on Huntington’s disease (HD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). We use a variety of cellular, molecular, and biochemistry approaches to study aspects of neuronal survival signaling in both in vitro and in vivo models.


Lab Website: Translational Neurobiology Laboratory

Selected Publications

Jiang M, Peng Q, Liu X, Jin J, Hou Z, Zhang J, Mori S, Ross CA, Ye K and Duan W. Small molecule TrkB receptor agonists improve motor function and extend survival in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Hum Mol Genet 2013, 22(12):2462-2470.

Duan W. Sirtuins: from metabolic regulation to brain aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2013, 5(36): 1-13

Jin J, Cheng Y, Zhang Y, Wood W, Peng Q, Hutchison E, Mattson MP, Becker KG, Duan W. Interrogation of brain miRNA and mRNA expression profiles reveals a molecular regulatory network that is perturbed by mutant huntingtin. J Neurochem, 2012, 123(4): 477-90.

Fu J, Jin J, Cichewicz RH, Hageman SA, Ellis TK, Xiang L, Peng Q, Jiang M, Arbez N, Hotaling K, Ross CA and Duan W. Trans-(-)-ε-viniferin increases mitochondrial sirtuin 3 (SIRT3), activates AMPK, and protects cells in models of Huntington’s disease. J. Bio Chem, 2012, 287(29):24460-72.

Jiang M, Wang J, Fu J, Du L, Jeong H, West T, Xiang L, Peng Q, Hou Z, Cai H, Seredenin T, Arbez N, Zhu S, Sommers K, Qian J, Zhang J, Mori S, Yang XW, Tamashiro KLK, Aja S, Moran TH, Luthi-Carter R, Martin B, Maudsley S, Mattson MP, Cichewicz RH, Ross CA, Holtzman DM, Krainc D, Duan W. Neuroprotective role of Sirt1 in mammalian models of Huntington’s disease through activation of multiple Sirt1 targets. Nature Medicine, 2011, 18(1): 153-158.

Cheng Y, Peng Q, Hou Z, Aggarwal M, Zhang J, Mori S, Ross CA, Duan W. Structural MRI detects progressive regional brain atrophy and neuroprotective effects in N171-82Q Huntington’s disease mouse model. Neuroimage, 2011, 56:1027-1034.

Jiang M, Porat-Shliom Y, Pei Z, Cheng Y, Xiang L, Sommers K, Li Q, Gillardon F, Hengerer B, Berlinicke C, Smith WW, Zack D, Poirier MA, Ross CA, Duan W.  Baicalein reduces E46K alpha-synuclein aggregation in vitro and protects cells against E46K alpha-synuclein toxicity in cell models of familiar Parkinsonism.  J Neurochem, 2010, 114(2):419-29.

Zhang J, Peng Q, Li Q, Jahanshad N, Hou Z, Jiang M, Masuda N, Langbehn DR, Miller MI, Mori S, Ross CA, Duan W. Longitudinal characterization of brain atrophy of a Huntington’s disease mouse model by automated morphological analyses of magnetic resonance images. Neuroimage, 2010, 49(3):2340-51.

Jin J, Peng Q, Hou Z, Jiang M, Wang X, Langseth AJ, Tao M, Barker PB, Mori S, Bergles DE, Ross CA, Detloff PJ, Zhang J, Duan W. Early white matter abnormalities, progressive brain pathology and motor deficits in a novel knock-in mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Hum Mol Genet 2015, 24(9):2508-2527.


Jiang M, Zheng J, Peng Q, Hou Z, Zhang J, Mori S, Ellis JL, Vlasuk GP, Fries H, Suri V, Duan W. Sirtuin 1 activator SRT2104 protects Huntington’s disease mice. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology 2014, 1(12):1047-1052.

Contact for Research Inquiries

The Johns Hopkins Hospital
CMSC 9-111
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-502-2866
Fax: 410-614-0013

Email me

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Cellular and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Activities & Honors


  • American Society of Neurochemistry
  • Society For Neuroscience
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