Research efforts in Dr. Xu's group are directed to three projects: (1); membrane protein structures and dynamics by NMR; (2); low-affinity drug interaction with membrane proteins, and (3); gene and stem cell therapy for brain protection and revitalization after cardiac arrest and resuscitation. The current focuses are as follows. For Project 1, NMR is used to determine the transmembrane domain structures of the human glycine receptor, which is the primary inhibitory receptors in the spinal cord and responsible for a wide range of diseases. The long-term goal is to provide the structural basis for novel design of drugs that are disease specific and devoid of side effects. For Project 2, experimental and theoretical approaches are combined to study how low affinity neurological agents, such as alcohol and general anesthetics, exert their effects on the central nervous system at the molecular level. The goal is to shed new lights on the great unsolved mystery of modern medicine: the molecular mechanisms of general anesthesia. For Project 3, new gene therapy strategies are being developed to target a special event called reperfusion injury after cardiac arrest and resuscitation. Recently, Dr. Xu's group combines gene therapy with stem cell therapy using a non-controversial source of stem cells, in an effort to stop and reverse the neuronal loss and to rebuild neuronal circuitry after reperfusion from prolonged cardiac arrest or stroke.
Students in Dr. Xu's laboratory have the opportunity to learn a variety of modern techniques, including expression and purification of membrane proteins, immunohistochemistry, high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, imaging reconstruction, 3-D protein structure calculation, and molecular dynamics simulations.
Department of Anesthesiology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Biomedical Science Tower 3, Room 2048
3501 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
P 412- 648-9922