Studies the development and organization of neural circuits in the mouse cerebral cortex. His team uses an integrated approach to identify neuronal cell types and discover how they interact to process information and guide behavior, focusing on the motor cortex that controls forelimb movement. His studies of inhibitory interneurons, such as chandelier cells, have implications for understanding schizophrenia and autism.
Josh Huang and colleagues study the assembly and function of neural circuits in the neocortex of the mouse. The neocortex consists of a constellation of functional areas that form a representational map of the external (sensory, social) and internal (visceral, emotional) world. These areas are strategically interconnected into elaborate information processing networks that guide behavior. The group’s overarching hypothesis is that, at the cellular level, cortical processing streams and output channels are mediated by a large set of distinct glutamatergic pyramidal neuron types, and functional neural ensembles are regulated by a diverse set of GABAergic interneuron types. Understanding cortical circuit organization requires comprehensive knowledge of these basic cellular components. The Huang lab uses state-of-the-art genetic approaches to systematically target cell types and facilitate the application of a full set of modern techniques for exploring cortical circuits. Among GABAergic interneurons, the chandelier cell is one of the most distinctive cell type that controls pyramidal neuron firing at the axon initial segment. Huang and colleagues are studying the developmental specification, activity-dependent circuit integration, and functional connectivity of chandelier cells, an entry point towards understanding a local circuit module. Regarding pyramidal neurons, they are systematically characterizing the developmental origin, axon projection pattern, and input connectivity of multiple classes of pyramidal neuron types, focusing on the forelimb motor cortex. They combine a range of approaches that include genetic and viral engineering, genetic fate mapping, gene expression profiling, cellular imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior analysis. Recently, they begin to integrate their studies in the context of the motor cortex control of forelimb movements.
2015: Special Lecture, Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Chicago
2013: President’s Plenary Lecture, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), Florida
2011-2012: Distinguished Investigator, NARSAD-Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
2007–2017: Simon’s Investigator; Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
2010: Plenary Lecture, Society of Biological Psychiatry 65th Annual Meeting, New Orleans
2007-2010: Harold & Leila Mathers Foundation Award
2004–2007: McKnight Scholar Award in Neuroscience
2004–2006: EJLB Foundation Award
2002–2005: Pew Scholar Award
2004-2007: March of Dime Birth Defect Foundation Award
2001-2004: Whitehall Foundation Award
The miracle of brain development
August 16, 2018
Genetic “fate-mapping” technologies developed by (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) Professor Josh Huang and colleagues show in exquisite detail how an important part of the mammalian brain—here, a mouse brain—self-assembles over a few short weeks during the embryonic period. In the sequence featured below, follow the emergence of the striatum, a brain area that enables information...
One experiment: Building a brain
August 16, 2018
We think of ourselves as unique individuals, yet developmental biology reveals what all of us must have in common before our experiences even begin to differentiate us. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Josh Huang and his team show in these images how a program that has evolved over eons and is imprinted in genes unfurls...
Portrait of a Neuroscience Powerhouse
April 27, 2018
At noon every Tuesday from September through June, scenes from a revolution in neuroscience are playing out at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Week after week, over 100 scientists cram themselves into a ground-floor meeting room in the Beckman Laboratory. It’s standing-room only as everyone in the Neuroscience Program settles in to hear details of the...
A lesson in class
December 15, 2017
Base Pairs podcast Base Pairs is a podcast about “the power of genetic information.” And there’s no better example of that power than how genome sequencing has changed our understanding of biology. In this episode, experts from three very different fields in the life sciences share stories from their own research that showcase this change....
For brain cells, you are who you speak to
October 31, 2017
LabDish blog Tracking a person entails searching through their email, phone, and other means of communication to map out their network. To do this for a brain cell, more creativity is called for. After more than a century of investigation into the diverse cells of the brain, neuroscientists still are not sure what exactly makes one neuron...
New leadership roles in BRAIN Initiative and International Brain Lab reflect CSHL’s excellence in neuroscience
October 24, 2017
Cold Spring Harbor, NY – The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) yesterday announced multiple grant awards totaling $50 million per year for five years to fund cutting-edge research on the brain. The project, part of the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), establishes a Center and a...
Neuron types in the brain are defined by gene activity that shapes their communication patterns
September 21, 2017
Families of genes encoding proteins involved in communication across synapses define neurons by determining which cells they connect with and how they communicate Cold Spring Harbor, NY — In a major step forward in research, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today publish in Cell a discovery about the molecular-genetic basis of neuronal cell...
Research reveals “exquisite selectivity” of neuronal wiring in the cerebral cortex
August 21, 2017
Inhibitory chandelier cells receive and transmit information from different ensembles of excitatory cells in their cortical neighborhood Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The brain’s astonishing anatomical complexity has been appreciated for over 100 years, when pioneers first trained microscopes on the profusion of branching structures that connect individual neurons. Even in the tiniest areas of...
Innovative tools will shed clarifying light on inhibitory neurons
September 21, 2016
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Imagine if every time you got in your car, you fired it up, put it in drive, slammed on the gas, and didn’t let up until you reached your destination. Now imagine every driver on the road did the same thing. It would be pile up after pile up. A...
Neuronal circuits filter out distractions in the brain
December 15, 2014
Scientists identify a neural pathway that controls attention, with implications for psychiatric disorders Cold Spring Harbor, NY – The next time you are in a crowded room, or a meeting, or even at the park with your kids, take a look around. How many people are on their phone? Distractions invade every aspect of our...
Lu, J. and Tucciarone, J. and Padilla-Coreano, N. and He, M. and Gordon, J. A. and Huang, Z. J. (2017) Selective inhibitory control of pyramidal neuron ensembles and cortical subnetworks by chandelier cells. Nat Neurosci, 20(10) pp. 1377-1383.
Paul, A. and Crow, M. and Raudales, R. and He, M. and Gillis, J. and Huang, Z. J. (2017) Transcriptional Architecture of Synaptic Communication Delineates GABAergic Neuron Identity. Cell,
He, M. and Tucciarone, J. and Lee, S. and Nigro, M. J. and Kim, Y. and Levine, J. M. and Kelly, S. M. and Krugikov, I. and Wu, P. and Chen, Y. and Gong, L. and Hou, Y. and Osten, P. and Rudy, B. and Huang, Z. J. (2016) Strategies and Tools for Combinatorial Targeting of GABAergic Neurons in Mouse Cerebral Cortex. Neuron, 91(6) pp. 1228-1243.
Taniguchi, H. and Lu, J. and Huang, Z. J. (2013) The spatial and temporal origin of chandelier cells in mouse neocortex. Science, 339(6115) pp. 70-4.
Ango, F. and di Cristo, G. and Higashiyama, H. and Bennett, V. and Wu, P. and Huang, Z. J. (2004) Ankyrin-based subcellular gradient of neurofascin, an immunoglobulin family protein, directs GABAergic innervation at purkinje axon initial segment. Cell, 119(2) pp. 257-72.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository