Jian Zuo, PhD
Jian Zuo, PhD

Jian Zuo, PhD

School of Medicine

Academic Appointments


  • Biomedical Sciences


  • Professor


Jian Zuo obtained his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering in Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China in 1985. He then immigrated to US for his PhD in Physiology from UCSF in 1993. After postdoc training in Rockefeller University, he became a faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis since 1998. After 20 years, he recently moved to Creighton University School of Medicine as the Chairman and Professor in the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences in April 2018. He has published >100 research articles and >20 reviews with high impacts. He currently has 2 R01 grants, 2 DoD grants and one MRC grant. He has trained many successful students and postdocs and has interests in commercialization of his discoveries.

Research and Scholarship

Research and Scholarship Interests

  • Hearing loss caused by aging, noise, cisplatin toxicity, or other insults affects 360 million people worldwide, but there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved drugs to prevent or treat it. We first performed high-throughput screens for small molecules that prevent cisplatin induced hearing loss in a cochlear derived cell line. The hit compounds were further validated in cochlear explants, zebrafish lateral-line neuromasts in vivo, and eventually in mouse and rat cochleae in vivo. We have so far identified and characterized several potent compounds that exhibit protection against not only cisplatin, but also antibiotics and noise induced hearing loss. We further investigated several targets of top compounds in knockout mouse models. To treat hearing loss, we first developed genetic mouse models in which hair cell regeneration occurred at adult ages. We utilized the state-of-the-art approaches such as conditional mouse genetics and 10X Genomics single-cell RNA seq analyses. Based on the mouse genetic results, we performed high-throughput screens of small molecules that mimic the genetics models. We further tested these top compounds in adult mice for hair cell regeneration. Combinatory applications of these top compounds could provide therapeutic intervention of hearing loss in clinics.

Current Research Projects

  • 1.    Walters Bradley J, Coak E, Dearman J, Bailey G, Yamashita T, Kuo B, Zuo J, In vivo interplay of p27Kip1, GATA3, ATOH1, and POU4F3 converts nonsensory cells to hair cells in adult mice. Cell Reports, 2017 Apr 11;19(2):307-320. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.03.044. NIHMS861746.
    2.    Teitz T, Fang J, Goktug AN, Bonga JD, Diao S, Hazlitt RA, Iconaru L, Morfouace M, Currier D, Zhou Y, Umans RA, Taylor MR, Cheng C, Min J, Freeman B, Peng J, Roussel MR, Kriwacki R, Guy RK, Chen T, Zuo J. CDK2 inhibitors as candidate therapeutics for cisplatin- and noise-induced hearing loss. J. Experimental Medicine, 2018 April 2; 215(4): 1187-1203. doi: 10.1084/jem.20172246. Epub 2018 Mar 7. PMC 5881471
    3.    Yamashita T, Zheng F, Finkelstein D, Kellard Z, Robert C, Rosencrance CD, Sugino K, Easton J, Gawad C, Zuo J. High-resolution transcriptional dissection of in vivo Atoh1-mediated hair cell conversion in mature cochleae identifies Isl1 as a co-reprogramming factor. PLoS Genetics, 14(7):e1007552, 2018. PMC6086484.
    4.    Hazlitt RA, Teitz T, Bonga J, Fang J, Diao S, Iconaru L, Yang L, Goktug AN, Currier D, Chen T, Rankovic Z, Min J, Zuo J. Development of Second-Generation CDK2 Inhibitors for the Prevention of Cisplatin-Induced Hearing Loss. J. Med Chem., 61(17):7700-7709, 2018.
    5.    DiGuiseppi J, Zuo J. The awesome power of optogenetics in hearing research. Neuroscience Letters, Invited Review, In Press.