Wenbin Deng

Wenbin Deng

Position Title
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine

2425 Stockton Blvd, Rm 653B, Sacramento, CA 95817

Profile Introduction

Basic and Translational Neuroscience; Stem Cell Technology and Regenerative Medicine; Biotechnology and Drug Discovery

Research Interests

Basic and Translational Neuroscience Research; Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine; Biotechnology and Drug Discovery

Deng lab conducts basic and translational neuroscience/stem-cell research. A central theme of our research program has been on pursuing links between genes, gene products, and pathological processes in the context of the biology of neurons and glia, and their stem cells. Our research entails the use of combined molecular/cellular and systems approaches applied to in vitro and in vivo models. We are particularly interested in enabling technologies to biological discovery; applying stem cell technologies, chemical biology, genome editing and cell engineering methods to biology and medicine; studying neurotransmitter receptor/G-protein coupled receptor/ion channel function, signal transduction pathways, mitochondrial dynamics, DNA damage/repair, and disease biology. We pursue fundamental mechanisms of nervous system development and disease, and stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. We also make every effort toward translating fundamental insights into discovery of new therapeutics for human disorders.

A particular focus of our current research is on investigating cellular and molecular basis of human development and disease by using induced pluripotent stem cells, neural precursor cells, or direct reprogramming technologies. Specific approaches include: generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from animal models or patients, differentiation of these cells into neurons or glia, and functional studies with these cells including physiology and genome-wide analyses, as well as targeting of disease-linked mutations into stem cells for functional studies in differentiated neurons or glia. With these approaches, we explore mechanisms of disease and translate fundamental insights into advances in diagnosis or treatment. We test new therapies in human mini-brains-on-chips as well as using in vivo transplantation technologies. Specific alleles can be introduced via the CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology to establish causality. Similar methods used for epigenetic reprogramming can be exploited to reset human cells and tissues to youthful properties and stages and to establish human organoids. Additional information can be sought with patient-derived cells and tissues in a platform amenable to individualized genomics and personalized medicine. Our research projects thus involve work with pluripotent stem cells, genetic engineering, in vitro differentiation, 3D tissue engineering, “brain-in-a-dish”, “disease-in-a-dish”, “patient-in-a-dish”, and cell transplantation to create “humanized chimeric rodent models” for in vivo studies. Additionally, we use classical biochemistry/molecular biology, systems biology tools, advanced imaging methods, as well as behavioral phenotyping assays and functional outcome studies, to generate insights into mechanisms of development, the causes of developmental and inherited diseases, and gene function, regulation and interaction, to develop molecular and genomic approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and to perform drug discovery and pharmacological intervention studies.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Comparative Pathology; Pharmacology and Toxicology; Neuroscience
  • Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology
  • Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • PTX Immunology

Specialties / Focus

  • Cellular Physiology
  • Developmental Physiology
  • Molecular Physiology
  • Neurophysiology


  • Deng Lab/Shriners IPRM, UCD Med Center
    • Yan Shen, PhD (Postdoc), Rajanikant Krishnamurthy, PhD (Postdoc), Yin Wang, PhD (Postdoc), Mangala Soundarapandian, PhD (Postdoc), Vimal Selvaraj, PhD (Postdoc), Peng Jiang, PhD (Postdoc), Jennifer Plane, PhD (Postdoc), Olga Chechneva, PhD (Postdoc), Stephanie Crockett, DVM (PhD Student, GGCP), Wei Liu (PhD Student, PTX), Christopher Cox (PhD Student, MCIP), U-Ging Lo (PhD Student, PTX), Richard Myers (PhD Student, MCIP), Ambrose Williams (PhD Student, BMB), Marco Calafiore (PhD Student), Tannaz Shooshtarian (Undergraduate Student), Brett Martin (Undergraduate Student), Joseph Gallego (Undergraduate Student), and Maxim Sidorov (Undergraduate Student).


  • 2006 Neuroscience Postdoc, Harvard Medical School,
  • 2001 Toxicology PhD, Rutgers University,


  1. Jiang P, Chen C, Liu X, Pleasure DE, Liu Y, Deng W. (2016) Promoting oligodendrogenesis by human iPSC-derived immature astroglia via increased TIMP-1 secretion. Cell Reports, 15 (6): 1303-1315. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.04.011. PMID: 27134175.
  2. Chen C,Jiang P, Xue H, Peterson SE, Tran HT, McCann AE, Parast MM, Li S, Pleasure DE, Laurent LC, Loring JF, Liu Y, Deng W. (2014) Role of astroglia in Down’s syndrome revealed by patient-derived human-induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature Communications. 5:4430 doi: 10.1038/ncomms5430 (2014).
  3. Jiang P, Chen C, Wang R, Chechneva OV, Chung S, Rao M, Pleasure DE, Liu Y, Zhang Q, Deng W. (2013) hESC-derived Olig2+ progenitors generate a subtype of astrocytes with protective effects against ischemic brain injury. Nature Communications, 4: 2196 doi: 10.1038/ncomms3196 (2013).
  4. Daugherty DJ, Selvaraj V, Chechneva OV, Liu X, Pleasure DE, Deng W. (2013) A TSPO ligand is protective in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. EMBO Mol Med, 5 (6): 891-903.
  5. Jiang P, Chen C, Liu X, Selvaraj V, Liu W, Feldman DH, Liu Y, Pleasure DE, Li, RA, Deng W. (2013) Generation and characterization of spiking and nonspiking oligodendroglial precursor cells from embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells, 31 (12), 2620-2631, doi: 10.1002/stem.1515.
  6. Liu Y, Jiang P, Deng W. (2011) Olig gene targeting in human pluripotent stem cells for motor neuron and oligodendrocyte differentiation. Nature Protocols, 6 (5): 640-655. The first two authors contributed equally.
  7. Deng W. (2010) Neurobiology of injury to the developing brain. Nature Rev Neurol, 6 (6): 328-336.
  8. Deng W. (2009) PARylation: strengthening the connection between cancer and pluripotency. Cell Stem Cell, 5: 349-350.
  9. Deng W, Wang H, Rosenberg PA, Volpe JJ, Jensen FE. (2004) Role of metabotropic glutamate receptors in oligodendrocyte excitotoxicity and oxidative stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101, 7751-7756.
  10. Deng W, Rosenberg PA, Volpe JJ, Jensen FE. (2003) Calcium-permeable AMPA/kainate receptors mediate toxicity and preconditioning by oxygen-glucose deprivation in oligodendrocyte precursors. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100, 6801-6806.