Yuanquan Song, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Contact InformationThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
3501 Civic Center Boulevard
5064 Colket Translational Research Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-590-0631
Fax: 215-590-3660


Itmat Expertise

The long-term goal of the lab is to elucidate the cellular and molecular basis governing the formation, maintenance and function of neural circuits under physiological and pathological conditions, using both Drosophila and mammalian models.

In particular, we are interested in studying the mechanisms regulating axon regeneration. One of our projects aims to determine the involvement of mechanical force during axon injury and regeneration.

Research Expertise

Research Interests
The long-term goal of the Song lab is to elucidate the cellular and molecular basis governing the formation, maintenance and function of neural circuits under physiological and pathological conditions, using both Drosophila and mammalian models.
With a background in neural development, neural circuits and behavior, fly and mouse genetics, injury and neurodegeneration models, our lab offers a unique skillset and perspective for addressing physiological questions in developmental/functional neurobiology and neurological diseases.

Neural degeneration, Neural regeneration, Neurodegenerative diesases, Drosophila, Spinal cord injury, Tumorigenesis

Research Details
Damage to the adult CNS, such as spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to persistent deficits due to the inability of mature axons to regenerate after injury. Under pathological situations such as multiple sclerosis (MS), the second most common neurological disorder leading to disability in young adults, the failure of damaged axons to regenerate contributes to non-reversible neurologic dysfunction. Currently, only a few therapies with limited efficacy are available, highlighting the urgent need to identify novel molecular targets and develop targeted therapies. What is also lacking is a systematic way to dissect the pathways underlying the four steps of axon regeneration, namely degeneration/debris clearance, regrowth, overcoming the hostile environment and re-building connectivity.

Long-term Project
Cross-species and multi-model analyses to map the gene circuits critical for maintaining nervous system function
Our lab builds on a platform to take advantages of the power of fly genetics in discovering novel factors together with the mammalian injury models to study their homologs and functional recovery. We have established the Drosophila sensory neuron degeneration and regeneration model, and have recently developed a second Drosophila CNS injury model. We and collaborators have been utilizing and generating fly brain tumor models. We have experience with the fly neurodegeneration model, the rodent optic nerve crush and spinal cord injury models. We further plan to adopt the rodent motor neuron degeneration, glaucoma and traumatic brain injury models. Thus we will use fly as a discovery tool, to identify genetic pathways important for neural degeneration, regeneration and tumorigenesis, and assess their evolutionary conservation in vertebrates.

Immediate Projects
Theme I: Identifying novel pathways regulating axon degeneration and regeneration
The RNA repair/splicing pathway in axon regeneration
Ongoing genetic screens for regulators of axon/dendrite degeneration/regeneration

Theme II: Linking pathways regulating regeneration and neurodegenerative diseases

Theme III: An integrative and comparative strategy to study regeneration and tumorigenesis

Theme IV: Regenerative medicine
Based in the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics (CCMT), which is dedicated to the understanding, development, and application of gene and related cell and nucleic acid therapies, a major translational goal of the lab is to develop therapeutic strategies utilizing the targets identified from our mechnistic studies, for treating patients with neural injury, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

Fun research ideas: studying aggression and courtship in flies. New ideas welcome!

Rotation Projects
1. Utilize the fly sensory neuron injury model to identify and characterize novel pathways regulating dendrite/axon degeneration and regeneration.
2. Establish new fly injury models
3. Study tumorigenesis in flies (brain tumors and others)
4. Fun fly behaviors
5. Study degeneration and regeneration using mammalian injury models in vitro and in vivo

Lab Personnel
Principal Investigator: Yuanquan Song, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral scholars: Dan Li, Ph.D. and Feng Li, Ph.D.
Graduate students: Ernest Monahan, Emily Lo and Leann Miles
Technician: Jessica Goldshteyn
Undergraduate: Pavithran Guttipatti


B.S. (Biotechnology), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, 2002
Ph.D. (Neuroscience), Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2009

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, Physiology, University of California, SanFrancisco; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2009-2016
Trainee, Spinal Cord Injury Research Training Program (SCITP) - 2 week course, Ohio State University, Department of Neuroscience, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2015-2015

Awards and Honors

University's Third Class Scholarship, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2000
University's Second Class Scholarship, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2001
Fine Science Tools Travel Award, University of Pennsylvania, 2005
Neuroscience Imaging Competition, Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences Retreat, University of Pennsylvania, 2008
Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund of California, 2012-2012
NIH/NINDS PA-11-197 NIH Pathway to Independence award (K99-R00), 2014-2019
IDDRC New Program Development Award/IDDRC at CHOP and Penn, 2016-2018
CHOP Pilot grant, 2017-2018
Roberts Functional Genomics Rapid Grant/CHOP, 2017-2018
Roberts Collaborative Forefront Grant/CHOP, 2018-2019
Wings for Life - Spinal Cord Research Foundation, 2018-2020
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, 2019-2021
Roberts Functional Genomics Rapid Grant/CHOP, 2019-2019
The Foerderer award/CHOP, 2020-2021
Sigma Xi, 2020-Present

Memberships and Professional Organizations

Society for Neuroscience, 2009 - Present
Reviewer, The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship, 2020 - 2020
Reviewer, NIH study section (NDPR) Ad Hoc, 2021 - 2021
Reviewer, The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) postdoctoral fellowship, 2022 - 2022

Web Links

Selected Publications

A naturally monomeric infrared fluorescent protein for protein labeling in vivo

Yu D, Baird MA, Allen JR, Howe ES, Klassen MP, Reade A, Makhijani K, Song Y, Liu S, Murthy Z, Zhang SQ, Weiner OD, Kornberg TB, Jan YN, Davidsoin MW, Shu X, Nat Methods 12(8): 763-765, 2015

Regulation of axon regeneration by the RNA repair and splicing pathway

Song Y, Sretavan D, Salegio EA, Berg J, Huang X, Cheng T, Xiong X, Meltzer S, Han C, Nguyen TT, Breshnahan JC, Beattie MS, Jan LY, Jan YN, Nat Neurosci 18(6): 817-825, 2015

Epidermal cells are in the primary phagocytes in the fragmentation and clearance of degenerating dendrites in Drosophila

Han C*, Song Y*, Xiao H, Wang D, Franc NC, Jan LY, Jan YN, Neuron 81(3): 544-560, 2014

Female contact modulates male aggression via a sexually dimorphic GABAergic circuit in Drosophila

Yuan Q*, Song Y*, Yang CH, Jan LY, Jan YN, Nat Neurosci 17(1): 81-88, 2014

Regeneration of Drosphilia sensory neuron axons and dendrites is regulated by the Akt pathway involving Pten and microRNA bantam

Song Y, Ori-McKenney KM, Zheng Y, Han C, Jan LY, Jan YN, Genes Dev 26(14): 1612-1625, 2012

mil ortholog containing functional domains of human MLL is expressed throughout the zebrafish lifespan and in haematopoietic tissues

Robinson BW*, Germano G*, Song Y*, Abrams J, Scott M, Guariento I, Tiso N, Argenton F, Basso G, Rhodes J, Kanki JP, Look AT, Balice-Gordon RJ, Felix CA, Br J Haematol 152(3): 307-321, 2011

Neural and synaptic defects in slytherin, a zebrafish model for human congenital disorders of glycosylation

Song Y, Willer JR, Scherer PC, Panzer JA, Kugath A, Skordalakes E, Gregg RG, Wiler GB, Balice-Gordon RJ, PLoS One 5(10): e13743, 2010

Mechanisms underlying metabolic and neural defects in zebrafish and human multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MADD).

Song Y, Selak MA, Watson CT, Coutts C, Scherer PC, Panzer JA, Gibbs S, Scott MO, Willer G, Gregg RG, Ali DW, Bennett MJ, Balice-Gordoin RJ, PLoS One 4(12): e8329, 2009

New dogs in the dogma: Lrp4 and Tid1 in neuromuscular synapse formation

Song Y, Balice-Gordon R, Neuron 60(4): 526-528, 2008

In vivo imaging of preferential motor axon outgrowth to and synaptogenesis at prepatterned acetylcholine receptor clusters in embryonic zebrafish skeletal muscle

Panzer JA*, Song Y*, Balice-Gordon RJ, J Neurosci 26(3): 934-947, 2006

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