PhD, Professor
studies the molecular basis of synapse development and plasticity, and pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders.
Office Phone: 
Lab Website: 


Cognitive functions depend on the precise neural network formed by neurons in the brain. Neurons communicate through neurotransmission at the synapse, which comprises a presynaptic terminal that contains the active zone for neurotransmitter release, a postsynaptic apparatus that harbors a high density of receptors for relaying the signals to the target cell, and surrounding glial cells that modulate the efficacy of neurotransmission across the synapse. Synaptic dysfunction is associated with a number of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease. Therefore, the precise organization of synaptic proteins and the spatial and temporal coordination of synaptic signaling events are central research topics in neurobiology. We are interested to investigate
• the molecular basis of synapse development and plasticity in the central nervous system
• the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease).
• the biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease and novel approaches for disease intervention.


Principal investigator at SIAT CAS since 2015
2010-2014, Research Assistant Professor, HKUST
2007-2010, Research Associate/Visiting Scholar, HKUST
2007, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, PhD.
2002, Sun Yat-Sen University, BSc in Biochemistry

Selected publications

1. Yu Chen*, Amy K.Y. Fu and Nancy Y. Ip*. (2018) Research updates on the pathogenic mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease and therapeutic strategies. Pharmacology & Therapeutics. In press. (* corresponding author)
2. Xiaopu Zhou#, Yu Chen#, Kin Y. Mok, Qianhua Zhao, Keliang Chen, Yuewen Chen, John Hardy, Yun Li, Amy K. Y. Fu, Qihao Guo*, Nancy Y. Ip*, for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. (2018) Identification of genetic risk factors in the Chinese population implicates a role of immune system in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(8): 1697–1706. (# equal contribution, * corresponding author)
3. Yu Chen*, Zhuoyi Liang, Erkang Fei, Yuewen Chen, Xiaopu Zhou, Weiqun Fang, Wing-Yu Fu, Amy K.Y. Fu, Nancy Y. Ip.* (2015) Axin regulates dendritic spine morphogenesis through Cdc42-dependent signaling. PLoS One 10(7): e0133115 (* corresponding author)
4. Yu Chen, Amy K.Y. Fu and Nancy Y. Ip. (2013) Axin: an emerging key scaffold at the synapse. IUBMB Life 65(8):685-91
5. Yu Chen, Wing-Yu Fu, Jacque P.K. Ip, Tao Ye, Amy K.Y. Fu, Moses. V. Chao and Nancy Y. Ip. (2012) ARMS/Kidins220 is required for neurotrophin and ephrin receptor-dependent dendrite development. Journal of Neuroscience 32(24):8263-9
6. Yu Chen, Amy K.Y. Fu and Nancy Y. Ip. (2012) Eph receptors at synapses: implications in neurodegenerative diseases. Cellular Signalling 24(3):606-11 [Highlighted in Faculty of 1000(]
7. Jacque P. K. Ip, Lei Shi, Yu Chen, Yasuhiro Itoh, Wing-Yu Fu, Andrea Betz, Wing-Ho Yung, Yukiko Gotoh, Amy K.Y. Fu and Nancy Y. Ip. (2012) 2-chimaerin controls neuronal migration and functioning of the cerebral cortex through CRMP-2. Nature Neuroscience 15(1):39-47
8. Wei-Qun Fang, Jacque P.K. Ip, Rui Li, Yu-Pong Ng, Sheng-Cai Lin, Yu Chen, Amy K.Y. Fu, and Nancy Y. Ip. (2011) Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of Axin directs axon formation during cerebral cortex development. Journal of Neuroscience 31(38):13613-24
9. Hovik Farghaian, Yu Chen, Ada W.Y. Fu, Amy K.Y. Fu, Jacque P.K. Ip, Nancy Y. Ip, Ann M. Turnley and Adam R. Cole. (2011) Scapinin-induced inhibition of axon elongation is attenuated by phosphorylation and translocation to the cytoplasm. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286(22):19724-34
10. Amy K Fu, Kwok-Wang Hung, Wing-Yu Fu, Chong Shen, Yu Chen, Jun Xia, Kwok-On Lai and Nancy Y. Ip. (2011) APC(Cdh1) mediates EphA4-dependent downregulation of AMPA receptors in homeostatic plasticity. Nature Neuroscience 14(2):181-9
11. Peng Zhang, Pei-Chun Yu, Anthony H. K. Tsang, Yu Chen, Amy K. Y. Fu, Wing-Yu Fu, Kenny K. Chung and Nancy Y. Ip. (2010) S-nitrosylation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) regulates its kinase activity and dendrite growth during neuronal development. Journal of Neuroscience 30(43):14366-70
12. Yu Chen#,* and Wing-Yu Fu#,*. (2009) EphB maintains dendritic spine morphology through focal adhesion kinase. Journal of Neuroscience 29(42):13091-3 (# equal contribution, * corresponding author)
13. Yu Chen, Amy K Y Fu and Nancy Y Ip. (2009) Bidirectional signaling of ErbB and Eph receptors at synapses. Neuron Glia Biology 4(3):211-21
14. Zelda H Cheung, Wing Hong Chin, Yu Chen, Yu Pong Ng and Nancy Y Ip. (2007). Cdk5 is involved in BDNF-stimulated dendritic growth in hippocampal neurons. PLoS Biology 5(4):e63
15. Wing-Yu Fu#, Yu Chen#, Mustafa Sahin, Xiao-Su Zhao, Lei Shi, Jay B Bikoff, Kwok-On Lai, Wing-Ho Yung, Amy K Y Fu, Michael E Greenberg and Nancy Y Ip. (2007) Cdk5 regulates EphA4-mediated dendritic spine retraction through an ephexin1-dependent mechanism. Nature Neuroscience 10(1):67-76. (# equal contribution) [Highlighted in Alzheimer Research Forum on 3 December 2006 ( and in Journal of Cell Biology 2007, 176(1): 5 (]
16. Shuo Luo#, Yu Chen#, Kwok-On Lai, Juan Carlos Arévalo, Stanley C Froehner, Marvin E Adams, Moses V Chao and Nancy Y Ip. (2005) α-Syntrophin regulates ARMS localization at the neuromuscular junction and enhances EphA4 signaling in an ARMS-dependent manner. Journal of Cell Biology 169(5):813-24. (# equal contribution)
17. Kwok-On Lai, Yu Chen, Hoi-Man Po, Ka-Chun Lok, Ke Gong and Nancy Y Ip. (2004) Identification of the Jak/Stat proteins as novel downstream targets of EphA4 signaling in muscle: implications in the regulation of acetylcholinesterase expression. Journal of Biological Chemistry 279(14):13383-92.