Newswise — PHILADELPHIA—Guo-li Ming, MD, PhD, and Hongjun Song, PhD, internationally renowned neuroscientists, have been appointed professors in the department of Neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Song and Ming are well known for their research on the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopment and brain-based disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism, which arise from dysfunction of those mechanisms. Their advances pave the way to new and better treatments for mental illness and neurological disease. The husband-and-wife team work together and independently of each other, with Song emphasizing investigations into how neural cells are born and Ming focusing on neural development.

Before coming to Penn, Ming and Song were professors of neurology and neuroscience for more than ten years at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where Song was also director of the Stem Cell Program.

“We are overjoyed to welcome Guo-li and Hongjun to Penn,” said John A. Dani, PhD, chair of Neuroscience at Penn. “They are highly accomplished, energetic, and wonderfully collaborative. They will make the outstanding neuroscience community at Penn even stronger as we work toward a better understanding of neural development and its relationship to mental health.”

In collaboration, Ming and Song led the team that discovered adult neural stem cells that are capable of self-renewal and multipotent fates. As such, these specialized cells have the potential to produce major neural cell lineages, including neurons and astrocytes (the most abundant cell in the nervous system that controls the blood brain barrier and provides diverse neuronal support). They also characterized how newborn neurons integrate into working neural circuitry. Their labs identified the first molecular mechanism regulating active DNA demethylation in adult neurons, a form of neural plasticity important in many crucial developmental and physiological processes.

Their labs also addressed the Zika virus outbreak by examining the mechanism of infection and identification of the virus, resulting in publications in Cell and Nature Medicine. This work was described on the front page of The New York Times.

Ming’s awards include the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes, the Klingenstein Fellowship Award in Neuroscience, the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, and the A.E. Bennett Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry. She is an elected member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. She received her medical degree from Tongji Medical University in China and her doctorate from the University of California at San Diego.Song’s awards include the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, the Rising Star Award from the International Mental Health Research Organization, and the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NIH. He is a “Highly Cited Researcher” as determined by Thomson Reuters, whose publications are among the top one-percent in their fields for citations. He received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.Contacts