Owen Chao, PhD

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Owen Chao

Contact Info


Office Phone 218-726-7417

Office Address:
DMed Biomedical Sciences
315 SMed
1035 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

Mailing Address:
DMED Biomedical Sciences
336 SMed
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812

Assistant Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Ph.D., Physiological Psychology, University of Düsseldorf, Germany

MA, Psychology, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

BA, Psychology, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan


I am studying the specific role of cerebellum underlying neuropsychiatric disorders and neurobiological mechanisms of episodic memory. I completed my Ph.D. training in Physiological Psychology at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany, with expertise in systematic neuroscience and psychopharmacology. Then I moved to New Orleans LA, United States, to study neuro-cortical connections. Afterward, I have deep interest in how neurons communicate with each other and decided to move to Duluth MN, United States, for doing research associated with synaptic transmission. Presently I am working in the studies of autism and schizophrenia with the application of electrophysiology, in vivo Ca2+ imaging, chemogenetic, optogenetic, immunochemistry, behavior, and genetic animal models to decipher their intrinsic cerebello-cerebral circuitry.

Awards & Recognition

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Scholarship for Young Scientists, 2009-2013

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) Young Investigator Award, 2021-2023

Professional Associations

Member, Society of Neuroscience, 2019 - present

Review Guest, the journal of Pharmacological Reports, 2015 - present

Review Guest, the journal of Behavioural Brain Research, 2013 - present



I. Publications

  • Chao OY, de Souza Silva MA, Yang YM, Huston JP (2020) The medial prefrontal cortex - hippocampus circuit that integrates information of object, place and time to construct episodic memory in rodents: Behavioral, anatomical and neurochemical properties. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 113: 373-407.
  • Chao OY, de Velasco EMF, Pathak SS, Maitra S, Zhang H, Duvick L, Wickman K, Orr HT, Hirai H, Yang YM (2020) Targeting inhibitory cerebellar circuitry to alleviate behavioral deficits in a mouse model for studying idiopathic autism. Neuropsychopharmacology https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0656-5.
  • Chao OY, Pathak SS, Zhang H, Dunaway N, Li JS, Mattern C, Nikolaus S, Huston JP, Yang YM (2020) Altered dopamine pathways and therapeutic effects of intranasal dopamine in two distinct mouse models of autism. Mol Brain doi: 10.1186/s13041-020-00649-7
  • Chao OY, Yang YM (2019) Timing constraints of action potential evoked Ca2+ current and transmitter release. Sci Rep 9: 4448.
  • Wang AL, Chao OY, Yang YM, Trossbach SV, Mueller CP, Korth C, Huston JP, de Souza Silva MA (2019) Anxiogenic-like behavior and deficient attention/working memory in rats expressing the human DISC1 gene. Pharma Biochem Behav 179: 73-79.
  • Yang YM, Arsenault J, Bah A, Krzeminski M, Fekete A, Chao OY, Pacey LK, Wang A, Forman-Kay J, Hampson DR, Wang LY (2018) Identification of a molecular locus for normalizing dysregulated GABA release from interneurons in the Fragile X brain. Mol Psychiatry doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0240-0.
  • Chao OY, Yunger R, Yang YM (2018) Behavioral assessments of BTBR T+ltpr3tf/J mice by tests of object attention and elevated open platform: implications for an animal model of psychiatric comorbidity in autism. Behav Brain Res 347:140-7.
  • Abdel-Hafiz L, Mueller-Schiffmann A, Korth C, Fazari B, Chao OY, Nikolaus S, Schaeble S, Herring A, Keyvani K, Lamounier-Zepter Valeria, Huston JP, de Souza Silva MA (2018) A? dimers induce behavioural and neurochemical deficits of relevance to early Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging 69:1-9.
  • Chao OY, Nikolaus S, BrandBrandão, Huston JP, de Souza Silva MA (2017) Interaction between the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampal CA1 area is essential for episodic-like memory in rats. Neurobiol Learn Mem 141:72-7.
  • Wang AL, Fazari B, Chao OY, Nikolaus S, Trossbach SV, Korth C, Sialana FJ, Lubec G, Huston JP, Mattern C, de Souza Silva MA (2017) Intra-nasal dopamine alleviates cognitive deficits in tgDISC1 rats which overexpress the human DISC1 gene. Neurobiol Learn Mem 146:12-20.
  • Chao OY, Huston JP, Li JS, Wang AL, de Souza Silva MA (2016) The medial prefrontal cortex – lateral entorhinal cortex circuits is essential for episodic-like memory and associative object-recognition. Hippocampus 26:633-45.
  • de Souza Silva MA, Huston JP, Wang AL, Petri D, Chao OY (2016) Evidence for a specific integrative mechanism for episodic memory mediated by AMPA/kainate receptors in a circuit involving medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampal CA3 region. Cereb Cortex doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv112.
  • Chao OY, Huston JP, Nikolaus S, de Souza Silva MA (2016) Concurrent assessment of memory for object and place: evidence for different preferential importance of perirhinal cortex and hippocampus and for promnestic effect of a neurokinin-3 R agonist. Neurobiol Learn Mem 130:149-58.
  • Abdel-Hafiz L, Chao OY, Huston JP, Spieler R, de Souza Silva MA, Mattern C (2016) Promnestic effects of intranasally applied pregnenolone in rats. Neurobiol Learn Mem133:185-95.
  • Chao OY, Wang AL, Nikolaus S, de Souza Silva MA (2015) NK3 receptor agonism reinstates temporal order memory in the hemiparkinsonian rat. Behav Brain Res 285:208-212.
  • Koenig B, Pape D, Chao OY, Bauer J, Grimpe B (2015) Long term deoxyribozyme administration to XT-1 mRNA promotes corticospinal tract regeneration and improves behavioral outcome after spinal cord injury. Exp Neurol doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.09.015.
  • Petri D, Huston JP, de Souza Silva MA, Chao OY, Schnitzler A (2015) Serotonergic interaction between medial prefrontal cortex and mesotelecephalic DA system underlies cognitive and affective deficits in hemiparkinsonian rats. Neuroscience 307:51-63.
  • Chao OY, Nikolaus S, Huston JP, de Souza Silva MA (2014) The neurokinin-3 receptor agonist senktide facilitates the integration of memories for object, place and temporal order into episodic memory. Neurobiol Learn Mem114:178-185.
  • Nikolaus S, Markus B, de Souza Silva MA, Huston JP, Hautzel H, Chao OY, Antke C, Müller HW (2014) Relationship between L-DOPA-induced reduction in motor and exploratory activity and degree of DAT binding in the rat. Front Behav Neurosci doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00431.
  • Chao OY, Pum ME, Huston JP (2013) The interaction between the dopaminergic forebrain projections and the medial prefrontal cortex is critical for memory of objects: Implications for Parkinson’s disease. Exp Neurol 247:373-382.
  • Chao OY, Pum ME, Li JS, Huston JP (2012) The grid test: assessment of sensorimotor deficits after moderate or severe dopamine depletion by 6-hydroxydopamine lesions in the dorsal striatum and medial forebrain bundle. Neuroscience 202: 318-325.
  • Chao OY, Mattern C, De Souza Silva MA, Weßler J, Ruocco LA, Nikolaus S, Huston JP, Pum ME (2012) Intranasally applied L-DOPA alleviates parkinsonian symptoms in rats with unilateral nigro-striatal 6-OHDA lesions. Brain Res Bull 87: 340-345.
  • Oudega M, Chao OY, Avison DL, Bronson RT, Buchser WJ, Hurtado A, Grimpe B (2012) Systemic administration of a deoxyribozyme to xylosyltransferase-1 mRNA promotes recovery after a spinal cord contusion injury. Exp Neurol 237: 170-179.
  • Chao OY, Huston JP, von Bothmer A, Pum ME (2011) Chronic progesterone treatment of male rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the dorsal striatum exacerbates parkinsonian symptoms. Neuroscience 196: 228-236.
  • Li JS, Chao YS (2008) Electrolytic lesions of dorsal CA3 impair episodic-like memory in rats. Neurobiol Learn Mem 89:192-198.