Dr Lan Zhu

Job: Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Allied Health Sciences

Research group(s): Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research Group

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 2577375

E: lan.zhu@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/hls

Social Media: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lan_Zhu6


Personal profile

Lan Zhu studied medicine in Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, China. After receiving her BM, she went on to teach Physiology at the same medical school for a couple of years. Later, she pursued her PhD in Neuroscience in Turin, Italy. After her PhD, she worked at University of Turin, University of Leicester, and King’s College London as a postdoctoral researcher.

She joined DMU in February 2015 as a Lecturer in Biomedical and Medical Science. Her main research interests are the neuronal mechanisms in physiological and pathological processes. She has been studying the brain cellular and molecular mechanisms for the learning and memory e.g. neuronal/synaptic plasticity for many years, and then ion channels particularly potassium channel mechanisms in peripheral neuropathic pain.

She also has a passion in the translational research which led her to co-lead and complete a project with a group of neuroscientists, neurologists, urologists and engineers.

She is currently interested in combining neurophysiology with neuropsychiatry and trying to understand the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders. Her current research is looking at the regulation of some neuronal functional key players such as potassium channels in the cerebellum and how the dysregulation contributes to the neuronal and cerebellar dysfunction in a pharmacological animal model of schizophrenia. This may help to identify more effective drug targets for this brain disorder and lead to the new drug development strategy. She is collaborating with neuroscientists from DMU and University of Leicester.

The research techniques employed in her research include behaviour analysis, surgery, whole cell patch clamp recording, in vivo extracellular recording, ex vivo sharp electrode intracellular recording, cell/tissue culture, immunohistochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy, western blot and RT-qPCR.

She currently leads the thematic area of Translational Science within the Institute of Applied Health Research.

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs

Click here to view a full listing of Dr Lan Zhu's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Physiology of potassium channels particularly voltage-gated potassium channels in the cerebellar functions
  • Voltage-gated potassium channel mechanisms in the cerebellar dysfunction and general pathophysiology of schizophrenia
  • NMDA receptors mechanisms in the cerebellar dysfunction in schizophrenia
  • Cerebellar mechanisms in schizophrenia
  • Ion channel particularly voltage-gated potassium channel mechanisms in neuropathic pain
  • Translational bioengineering e.g. bladder functional recovery after spinal cord injury
  • Neuronal mechanisms including neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity of learning and memory
  • Pharmacology of glutamatergic receptors, e.g. AMPAR, NMDAR, mGluR and their involvement in synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory

Areas of teaching

    • Anatomy and physiology of Nervous System
    • Brain and Nervous System disorders
    • Cellular pathology
    • Neuropathology
    • Undergraduate and postgraduate project supervision


  • Bachelor of Medicine
  • PhD in Neuroscience
  • PGCert in Higher Education

Honours and awards

  • Research Leave award, De Montfort University, 1/2022 – 4/2022
  • Full Bursary PhD Scholarship 2016 (£14,057.00 per year) as first supervisor, De Montfort University; 10/2016 – 10/2021
  • Investment Fund 2015 (£8,800), De Montfort University
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Laboratory of Prof. Stephen McMahon, Pain and Neuroregeneration group, Wolfson CARD, King’s College London, funded by EPSRC; 1/2011 – 7/2013
  • Interviewed for Wellcome Trust Value in People Research Associate Grant; 16/8/2010
  • Best Poster Prize, titled “Quantitative visualisation of transmitter release at hippocampal synapses”, Neuroscience Day 2009, University of Leicester.
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Leicester, funded by BBSRC; 5/2007 – 11/2010
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin, Italy, funded by Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Italian Space Agency, European Community, Regione Piemonte and Compagnia San Paolo Foundation; 11/2005 – 4/2007
  • International PhD studentship in Neuroscience, awarded by University of Turin, Italy; 10/2001 – 10/2005 

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • British Neuroscience Association (BNA)
  • Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)
  • International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO)
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy

Professional licences and certificates

  • Certificate of Home Office Procedure Individual Licence
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education
  • Certificate in Research Supervision


    • Investigating cerebellar mechanisms of schizophrenia by using a pharmacological mouse model: regulation of voltage-gated potassium channels
    • Investigating the morphological changes of the cerebellum from a pharmacological animal model of schizophrenia
    • Regulation of a glutamate receptor and its implications in the cerebellar dysfunction of a pharmacological animal model of schizophrenia
    • Regulation of a calcium binding protein and its implications in the cerebellar dysfunction of a pharmacological animal model of schizophrenia

Current research students

    • Mr Mohammad Abudayeh (PhD, 2021 – 2023, 2nd supervisor)
    • Miss Leah MacGregor (PhD, 2020 – present, 1st supervisor)
    • Miss Rubab Ralpur (PhD, 2017 – present, 2nd supervisor)
    • Mr Lukasz Lagojda (PhD, 2016 – 2021, 1st supervisor, successful completion)

Internally funded research project information

  • DMU research start-up fund, £5000, principal investigator, 2015 – 2016
  • DMU Investment Fund 2015, £8,800, co-investigator, 2015
  • DMU full bursary PhD scholarship, £39K, first supervisor, 2016 - 2019
  • DMU PhD bench fee, £15K, first supervisor, 2016 - 2019
  • DMU PhD bench fee, £6K, first supervisor, 2020 - 2023
  • Joint internal fund from HLS Faculty and School of Allied Health Sciences; Leica DM2000 fluorescence microscope and workstation, £10K, principal investigator, March 2017
  • Ethovision XT animal behaviour track system, £7045, principal investigator, August 2019
  • DMU Front runner internship, £2100, supervisor, October 2019 - March 2020. A new proposal submitted on 26th January 2023
  • DMU Internal Sandwich Placement, supervisor, September 2019 - May 2020
  • DMU Research allowance budget, £1000, principal investigator, October 2022
  • Patch clamp electrophysiology setup, £100K, principal investigator, gifted by University of Leicester under long-term collaboration, 30th August 2022
  • DMU QR funding, £4000, principal investigator, awarded on 2nd February 2023

Professional esteem indicators

  • Invited by University of Leicester to be external examiner for PhD thesis entitled “The role of serotonin in synaptic plasticity: detailed characterisation of the effect of serotonin on long-term potentiation across the hippocampus”; completed in 04/2023
  • Invited by University of Leicester to be external examiner for PhD thesis entitled ““The effects of CB1R activation on age-related cognitive decline and presynaptic calcium in the aged hippocampus”; completed in 07/2022
  • Invited by University of Leicester to be external examiner for PhD thesis entitled “Molecular mechanisms for activity-dependent control of neuronal excitability in the central auditory pathway”; completed in 01/2022
  • Awarded DMU Research Leave, 1/2022 – 4/2022
  • Gave advice to researchers in Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, 2021 - present
  • Provided research findings to the BBC News Health, 2013

Research project for potential international students

Schizophrenia is a debilitating neurodevelopmental brain disorder. Affecting 1% of the population worldwide, schizophrenia imposes a tremendous global economic burden associated with health and social care. The current antipsychotics face many challenges, attributed to incomplete understanding of the complex pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The cerebellum is regarded as an integral node in neuronal circuits subserving all brain functional domains. Over the past two decades structural and functional abnormalities of the cerebellum have been linked with schizophrenia; and treatments aimed at the cerebellum, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, have shown promising efficacy.

The following projects will be using a well-established pharmacological mouse module of schizophrenia while employing a wide range of techniques to study the cerebellar mechanisms of this brain disorder:

  1. We have recently found some morphological changes in the cerebellum of this animal model. We would like to investigate more systematically in more details the morphological alterations of the cerebellum, from tissue level, cellular level to subcellular level, of this animal model.
  2. We have recently found that, voltage-gated potassium channel Kv2.1, a schizophrenia vulnerability risk gene, is significantly downregulated at the gene level and the protein level in the cerebellum of this mouse model. We would like to understand how this dysregulation contributes to the neuronal and cerebellar dysfunction of this mouse model.
  3. Another voltage-gated potassium channel Kv3 expresses in a subpupulation of neurons including cerebellar granule cells, enabling them to fire action potential at up to 1000 Hz for the require physiological functions. Kv3.1 dysregulation in the cerebral cortex has been implied to account for the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. We would like to know how various subtypes of Kv3 channels are regulated in the cerebellum of this mouse model, and furthermore, how the potential dysregulation contributes to the neuronal and cerebellar dysfunction of this mouse model.