Huaxi Xu, Ph.D.

Professor, Degenerative Diseases Program
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Dr. Huaxi Xu is an expert specialized in the molecular and cellular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His research is focused on the regulation of APP processing and trafficking, and mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction and neurotoxicity induced by proteotoxic beta amyloid and neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) tau components. Recently, Dr. Xu’s laboratory has engaged in pioneering research in investigating novel genes and pathways involved in neuronal function/dysfunction and cell death, and integrating their cellular function to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, Down syndrome and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. To this end, his laboratory is also developing animal models to study neuronal and microglial function in relation to neurodegenerative dysfunction. As an independent PI with over 18 years’ experience, Dr. Xu continuously has received funding of multiple grants from the NIH and many private foundations, and published over 120 papers with a total impact factor of approximately 900 (with over 10,000 citations and an h-index >50).

Dr. Xu received his Ph.D. degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine under joint supervision from Dennis Shields and Gunter Blobel (1999 Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine); his thesis studies focused on the intracellular trafficking and proteolytic processing of membrane proteins.  Dr. Xu completed his postdoctoral studies at The Rockefeller University, where he was appointed assistant professor in 1998 in the laboratory of Paul Greengard (2000 Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine), where he carried out a variety of research projects characterizing signal transduction pathways in the central nervous system. Dr. Xu moved to Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute as associate professor in 2003, and was promoted to full professor in 2008; he also served as Neurodegenerative Disease Research Program Director from 2007-2012. Together with Dr. Guojun Bu (Mayo Clinic), Dr. Xu established the well-respected neuroscience journal, Molecular Neurodegeneration (with an impact factor of 6.51), which has become one of the top-ranking scientific journals in the neuroscience field.

Funded Research

Project Description Researchers Funding
SORLA Attenuates Abeta Toxicity Through Interactions With EphA4

SORLA is a genetic risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but it is unclear how changes in SORLA abundance can trigger the onset of AD in the elderly. So far, studies have shown that SORLA can limit the amount of neurotoxic Abeta generated in the brain. However, since high levels of Abeta also are seen in aged individuals without symptoms of dementia or cognitive decline, neuroprotective mechanisms are likely in place to protect neurons from Abeta damage.


Selected Publications

These published papers resulted from Cure Alzheimer’s Fund support.
Li Zhong, Zhen-Lian Zhang, Xinxiu Li, Chunyan Liao, Pengfei Mou, Tingting Wang, Zongqi Wang, Zhe Wang, Min Wei, Huaxi Xu, Guojun Bu, Xiao-Fen Chen, TREM2/DAP12 Complex Regulates Inflammatory Responses in Microglia via the JNK Signaling Pathway, Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience, 9, 21 Jun 2017, 204