Ruifeng Cao
,
Credentials
MD PhD

Associate Professor
Biography

Research Summary

Circadian (~24 h) rhythmicity is a fundamental property of nearly all living beings on this planet. In mammals, the master pace maker is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. The SCN relays photic information from the retina to the brain to synchronize endogenous rhythms to ambient light/dark cycles. Desynchronization of the endogenous rhythms can lead to fatigue, insomnia and memory loss as seen in jet lag.

Circadian clocks also exist in a variety of extra-SCN regions throughout the brain. The rhythms in these regions modulate brain activities on a daily basis. A variety of neurophysiological processes are rhythmically regulated by the circadian clock, which accounts for the time-of-day variations in our sensory, motor, memory and social functions. Conversely, disruption of circadian rhythms has been reported in patients with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

My lab is interested in molecular signaling mechanisms that orchestrate daily rhythms in our brain and how their dysregulation contributes to various neurological and psychiatric diseases. We are particularly interested in the role of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling and mechanisms that control mRNA translation in the circadian clock.Our lab utilizes a combination of molecular, cellular and behavioral technologies, including polysome profiling, RNA sequencing, qRT-PCR, Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, electrophysiology, confocal microscopy, viral-mediated gene silencing and animal behavioral analysis (e.g., circadian, social and memory tests, EEG). A variety of model systems, including cell culture, organotypic slice culture, and whole animals (transgenic and knockout mice) are employed.

We constantly look for talented and motivated undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to join our lab.

Research Methods/Techniques

Our lab utilizes a combination of molecular, cellular and behavioral technologies, including polysome profiling, RNA sequencing, qRT-PCR, Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, electrophysiology, confocal microscopy, viral-mediated gene silencing and animal behavioral analysis (e.g., circadian, social and memory tests, EEG). A variety of model systems, including cell culture, organotypic slice culture, and whole animals (transgenic and knockout mice) are employed.

Professional Associations

Teaching Summary

Neurological Medicine
Foundation of Medicine
Mentoring/Advising: undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral fellows.
 

Education

PhD, Ohio State University
Major: Neuroscience
MS, Fourth Military Medical University
Major: Biomedical Sciences
MD, Fourth Military Medical University
Major: Clinical Medicine

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

Postdoctoral Fellow, Fellowship
McGill University
Resident and Research Fellow, Residency
Fourth Military Medical University

Honors and Recognition

Brain Star Award, Canadian Institute of Health Research
2016
Merit Award of Oral Presentation, Canadian Society for Chronobiology
2015
Étudiants-chercheurs étoile Award, Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec
2014
Brain Star Award, Canadian Institute of Health Research
2014
MedStar Award, McGill University
2013
Trainee Research Award, Ohio State University, Department of Neuroscience
2010
Medical Student Excellence Awards, Fourth Military Medical University
2002
Selected Presentations

Selected Presentations

Cao, R., Zavalia, N., Zhu, L., Storch, K. F., Amir, S., Sonenberg, N. "The eIF2α kinase GCN2 regulates circadian timing and entrainment", Society for Neuroscience 46th Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, November 14, 2016.
Cao, R. "Translational control of the SCN circadian clock", 3rd Midwest Chronobiology Seminar, Urbana, Illinois, September 24, 2016.
Cao, R. "Translational control the mammalian circadian clock", SLEEP 2016 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, Denver, Colorado, June 13, 2016.
Cao, R., Sonenberg, N. "Temporal and spatial reorganization of the brain circadian network in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome", Gordon Research Conference: 2016 Fragile X and Autism-Related Disorders, West Dover, Vermont, June 07, 2016.
Cao, R. "Translational control of the mammalian circadian clock", 10th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting 2016, Toronto, Canada. May 30, 2016.
Cao, R. "Translational control of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock by mTOR/4E-BP1 signaling", The First Conference of the Canadian Society for Chronobiology, Toronto, Canada. May 25, 2016.
Cao, R., Gkogkas, C. G., de Zavalia, N., Blum, I. D., Storch, K. F., Amir, S., Sonenberg, N. "eIF4E phosphorylation regulates mammalian circadian behavior via translational control of period 1 and period 2", Society for Neuroscience 45th Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October 19, 2015.
Cao, R., Xu, H., Liu, A. C., Amir, S., Sonenberg, N. "Translational control of the circadian clock through the cap-binding protein eIF4E", 14th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, Big Sky, Montana, June 16, 2014.
de Zavalia, N., Harbour, V. L., Weigl, Y., Robinson, B., Cao, R., Amir, S. "Analysis of clock gene and protein expression in the rat olfactory bulb using, immunohistochemsitry, qPCR and western blotting", Society for Neuroscience 43rd Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, November 11, 2013.
Cao, R. "Translational control of vip modulates synchrony and entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Nanosymposium, Society for Neuroscience 43rd Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, November 10, 2013.
Cao, R., Obrietan, K. "Mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK) couples light to entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Symposium of Circadian Rhythms Research in Canada, Montreal, Canada. June 02, 2011.
Cao, R., Butcher, G., Obrietan, K. "Mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK) couples light to entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Society for Neuroscience 40th Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, November 15, 2010.
Cao, R., Li, A., Cho, H., Lee, B., Obrietan, K. "Mammalian target of rapamycin signaling modulates photic entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", 12th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, Destin, Florida, May 24, 2010.
Cao, R., Li, A., Cho, H., Lee, B., Obrietan, K. "mTOR signaling and photic entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Neuroscience Poster Day, Columbus, Ohio, November 03, 2009.
Cao, R., Li, A., Cho, H., Lee, B., Obrietan, K. "mTOR signaling couples light to entrainment of the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Society for Neuroscience 39th Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October 19, 2009.
Cao, R., Lee, B., Cho, H., al, e. t. "Photic regulation of the mTOR signaling pathway in suprachiasmatic circadian clock", Society for Neuroscience 38th Annual Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia, November 16, 2008.
Cao, R., Lee, B., Cho, H., al, e. t. "Light regulates mTOR signaling in the suprachiasmatic circadian clock", OSU Medical Center Research Day, Columbus, Ohio, April 15, 2008.
Cao, R., Ooba, S., Hasuo, H., Akasu, T. "Hyperexcitability of hippocampal CA1 neurons after fluid percussion injury in rats", The 28th Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society, Yokohoma, Japan. July 27, 2005.