Cheng Huang, PhD

Assistant Professor

Huang Lab | Google Scholar


Animal brains exploit dynamic neural processes to encode, store and retrieve associative information for guiding proper behaviors. During these processes, vast biological changes occur in different regions throughout the brain and often act on various time scales. Although this distributed and dynamic nature poses extraordinary challenges, elucidating the mechanisms of memory processing would profoundly advance our understanding of the brain and eventually benefit the interventions/treatments for memory disorders.

Our laboratory uses fruit flies, Drosophila, as a model system to study how animals acquire and store information from past experiences and shape their future decisions. Utilizing novel chronic voltage-imaging techniques, we can track neuronal changes underlying memory with unprecedented millisecond-scale temporal precision and over long-term durations of many weeks in behaving flies. The unique combination of quantitative behavior measurements, large-scale optical imaging, synaptic-level connectome analyses and computational approaches empower us to unravel the cellular, circuit and computational mechanisms of memory in an integrative manner.

Selected publications

  • Cheng Huang*,†, Junjie Luo, Seung Je Woo, Lucas Roitman, Jizhou Li, Vincent Pieribone, Madhuvanthi Kannan, Ganesh Vasan, and Mark J. Schnitzer*. Dopamine signals integrate innate and learnt valences to regulate memory dynamics. In revision. (Equal contribution, *Corresponding author, doi: 10.21203/
  • Adam J Bowman, Cheng Huang, Mark J Schnitzer, and Mark A Kasevich. Wide-field fluorescence lifetime imaging of neuron spiking and sub-threshold activity in vivo. In revision. (doi: arXiv:2211.11229).
  • Madhuvanthi Kannan, Ganesh Vasan, Simon Haziza, Cheng Huang, Radoslaw Chrapkiewicz, Junjie Luo, Jessica A. Cardin, Mark J. Schnitzer, and Vincent A. Pieribone. Dual polarity voltage imaging reveals subthreshold dynamics and concurrent spiking patterns of multiple neuron-types. Science 378 (6619): eabm8797.
  • Madhuvanthi Kannan, Ganesh Vasan, Cheng Huang, Simon Haziza, Jin Zhong Li, Hakan Inan, Mark J. Schnitzer, and Vincent A. Pieribone. Fast, in vivo voltage imaging using a red fluorescent indicator. Nature Methods 15 (2018): 1108–1116.
  • Cheng Huang*, Jessica R Maxey, Supriyo Sinha, Joan Savall, Yiyang Gong, and Mark J. Schnitzer*. Long-term optical brain imaging in live adult fruit flies. Nature Communication 9 (2018): 872. (*Corresponding author).
  • Yiyang Gong, Cheng Huang, Jin Zhong Li, Benjamin F. Grewe, Yanping Zhang, Stephan Eismann, and Mark J. Schnitzer. High-speed recording of neural spike trains in awake mice and flies using a fluorescent voltage indicator. Science 350 (2015): 1361–1366.
  • Joan Savall, Eric T. Ho, Cheng Huang, Jessica R. Maxey, and Mark J. Schnitzer. Dexterous robotic manipulation of alert adult Drosophila for high-content experimentation. Nature Methods 12 (2015): 657–660.
  • Zhiyong Xie, Cheng Huang, Bo Ci, Lianzhang Wang, and Yi Zhong. Requirement of the combination of mushroom body γ lobe and α/β lobes for the retrieval of both aversive and appetitive early memories in Drosophila. Learning & Memory 20 (2013): 474–481.
  • Cheng Huang, Pengzhi Wang, Zhiyong Xie, Lianzhang Wang, and Yi Zhong. The differential requirement of mushroom body α/β subdivisions in long-term memory retrieval in Drosophila. Protein & Cell 4 (2013): 512–519.
  • Cheng Huang, Xingguo Zheng, Hong Zhao, Min Li, Pengzhi Wang, Zhiyong Xie, Lei Wang and Yi Zhong. A permissive role of mushroom body α/β core neurons in long-term memory consolidation in Drosophila. Current Biology 22 (2012): 1981–1989 (Equal contribution).

Education & experience

2017–2023: Research scientist, Stanford University, USA

2013–2017: Postdoc research fellow, Stanford University, USA

2007–2013: Ph.D., Biology (Neuroscience), Tsinghua University, China

2005–2007: M.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Beijing Institute of Technology, China

2001–2005: B.S., Bioengineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, China

Honors & awards

2009: Tsinghua University Laboratory Contribution Award, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

2007: Excellent Graduate Student Award, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.

2007: Excellent M.S. Thesis Award, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.

2005: Bronze medal of ‘Challenge Cup’ — The Capital College Student Science and Technology Innovation Competition, Beijing Municipal Education Commission, China.

2005: Gold medal of the Extracurricular Science and Technology Competition, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.