Photo of Haining Zhong, Ph.D.

Haining Zhong Ph.D.

Haining Zhong earned a B.A. in Biological Science and Biotechnology and B.Eng. in Electronics and Computer Science from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in 1996. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2002. Zhong did postdoctoral training at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and then at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2009, he was appointed as an assistant scientist at the Vollum Institute and was promoted to scientist in 2015.

We study how the brain is regulated and changed to allow the animal to adapt to and excel in the ever-changing world. Our focus is on two types of regulations — neuromodulation and experience-dependent plasticity — using rodents as the experimental model. We harness the advantages of both in vitro and in vivo experiments depending on the specific question using a variety of approaches, including advanced microscopy, electrophysiology, optogenetics, mouse genetics, CRISPR-based gene editing, and computation. Because novel technology enables us to ask long standing questions in new ways, we also actively adapt and develop the relevant technologies, such as endogenous protein labeling, biosensors for subcellular signaling pathways and microscopy. Learn more about Dr. Zhong’s research at the Vollum Institute.

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Areas of interest

  • photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM)
  • two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (2PFLIM)
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) microscopy
  • CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing
  • in vivo imaging of neuromodulation and subcellular signaling in awake animals
  • protein and signaling dynamics during plasticity, cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) signaling, labeling of endogenous proteins
  • dopamine, striatum, mouse locomotion


  • B.S., Tsinghua University, Beijing China 1996
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore Maryland 2002

Honors and awards

  • NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (2011-2016)
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award, The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (2013-2015)


  • Ma L, Jongbloets BC, Xiong WH, Melander JB, Qin M, Lameyer TJ, Harrison MF, Zemelman BV, Mao T*, Zhong H*. (2018) A highly sensitive A-kinase activity reporter for imaging neuromodulatory events in awake mice. Neuron 99:665-679.e5. *Co-senior authorship

  • Patriarchi T, Cho JR, Merten K, Howe MW, Marley A, Xiong WH, Folk RW, Broussard GJ, Liang R, Jang MJ, Zhong H, Dombeck D, von Zastrow M, Nimmerjahn A, Gradinaru V, Williams JT, Tian L. (2018) Ultrafast neuronal imaging of dopamine dynamics with designed genetically encoded sensors. Science 360:eaat4422.

  • Tillo SE, Xiong WH, Takahashi M, Miao S, Andrade AL, Fortin DA, Yang G, Qin M, Smoody BF, Stork PJS, Zhong H. (2017) Liberated PKA catalytic subunits associate with the membrane via myristoylation to preferentially phosphorylate membrane substrates. Cell Reports 19:617-629.

  • Fortin DA, Tillo SE, Yang G, Rah JC, Melander JB, Bai S, Soler-Cedeño O, Qin M, Zemelman BV, Guo C, Mao T*, Zhong H*. (2014) Live imaging of endogenous PSD-95 using ENABLED: a conditional strategy to fluorescently label endogenous proteins. J. Neurosci. 34:16698-16712. *Co-senior authorship

  • Hunnicutt BJ, Long BR, Kusefoglu D, Gertz KJ, Zhong H*, Mao T*. (2014) A comprehensive thalamocortical projection map at the mesoscopic level. Nature Neurosci. 17:1276-1285. *Co-senior authorship

  • Zhong H, Sia GM, Sato TR, Gray NW, Mao T, Khuchua Z, Huganir RL, Svoboda K. (2009) Subcellular dynamics of type II PKA in neurons. Neuron 62:363-374.

  • Ji N, Shroff H, Zhong H, Betzig E. (2008) Advances in the speed and resolution of light microscopy. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 18:605-616.

  • Harvey CD, Yasuda R, Zhong H, Svoboda K. (2008) The spread of Ras activity triggered by activation of a single dendritic spine. Science 321:136-140.

  • Zhong H, Lai J, Yau KW. (2003) Selective heteromeric assembly of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:5509-5513.

  • Zhong H, Molday LL, Molday RS, Yau KW. (2002) The heteromeric cyclic nucleotide-gated channel adopts a 3A:1B stoichiometry. Nature 420:193-198.

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