Moses V. Chao PhD is Professor of Cell Biology, Neuroscience & Physiology and Psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center. He received his BA degree from Pomona College and his PhD in biochemistry from UCLA. After postdoctoral research at Columbia University, his laboratory defined the genes encoding the NGF receptor and identified mechanisms used by trophic factors to change synaptic plasticity. Chao served as Senior Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience for eleven years and as a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards for the Simons Foundation, Target ALS, the Pershing Square Foundation, the Pritzker Foundation and the Weizmann Institute. Previously he served as an advisor for the Vollum Institute, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI), the Danish Neuroscience Institute and the Max Planck Institute. He was the past Chair of the Glaucoma Research Foundation Advisory Board; the Christopher Reeve Foundation Review Committee; and the New York Spinal Cord Injury Research Board. Chao was elected President of the Society for Neuroscience in 2012. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and a recipient of a Zenith Award from the Alzheimer’s Association, an NIH Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Julius Axelrod Prize.

Research Interests

Dr. Chao’s research is focused on how nerve growth factors affect neuronal and glial cell function. Neurotrophic factors, such as NGF and BDNF (Brain-derived neurotropic factor), are potent signaling molecules that were originally characterized for their ability to regulate neuronal growth, survival and differentiation during early development. However, in the adult, these trophic factors are involved in synaptic plasticity and neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, pain, injury and mood disorders. BDNF has also been directly linked to metabolic syndromes, such as obesity and hyperphagia. An unexplored area is how BDNF receptor signaling influences signaling from the periphery to the brain. Recently it has been realized that mature post-mitotic neurons can become independent of trophic factors for survival. The future aim is to understand how trophic factor independence is achieved, which may represent a key factor in neurodegenerative diseases, as well as longevity. A primary objective of the research is to identify biochemical steps in signaling used by trophic factors and other neuropeptides, such as oxytocin, to understand how specificity is encoded in cell-cell communication in the nervous system.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology