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Home > Faculty > SUSTech Faculty Finder > Hou Shengtao


Hou Shengtao


Director of Golbal Engagement Office

Department of Biology



Amongst many important discoveries, his team was the first to demonstrate that axon guidance molecules exacerbate brain function recovery after stroke through inducing axon shortening and active neuronal death. His team was also responsible for the seminal work showing that transcription factor E2F1 mediates the death of postmitotic neurons and that E2F1 regulates neuronal death in stroke brain. These studies revealed novel targets for the development of new drugs to promote brain function recovery. He published a series of high impact reports on molecular mechanisms of neuronal death (J Clin Invest, J Neurosci, JBC, Mol Cell Biol,) which were widely cited by other research groups. His team also made technological advancement in successfully constructing several hypoxia-inducible, neuron-specific adenoviral expression vectors, which have potential important clinical applications. The long-term goal of his research is aimed at reducing stroke-induced brain damage and speeding up recovery process through new scientific discoveries and technological innovations. The impact of his work is to reduce socio-economical burden to the society due to stroke-induced incapacity of brain function.

Born in 1963, Professor Hou received his doctoral degree from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow in 1991. His doctoral study was supported by a full University of Glasgow Graduate Scholarship and a prestigious Overseas Research Student Award from the UK. After successfully completing his postdoctoral training at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, University of London (1991-1993),and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol (1993-1996), Dr Hou was recruited by the National Research Council of Canada as Assistant Research Officer in May 1996. Since then, Dr Hou has risen to the rank of Group leader, Senior Research Officer (tenured position) and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Immunology and Microbiology of the University of Ottawa to train doctoral and postdoctoral students.

Dr Hou received many awards and research grants from research organizations of Canada, UK, and China. He was Principal Investigator and Project Leader of several Canadian National Research projects, a Canada-China Joint Health Initiative project and two Canada-British Council Joint Research Projects.


Research Interests:

Professor Hou’s research is focused on identifying novel molecular targets in the complex cascade of post stroke events and developing novel experimental strategies and drugs relevant to clinical therapeutics.

Strategies to promote regenerative axonal outgrowth in the CNS after brain injury are thwarted by the plethora of inhibitory ligands and the ligand promiscuity of some of their receptors secreted from oligodendrocytes/myelin, reactive astrocytes and fibroblasts in the scar tissue. Neurons must integrate this multitude of inhibitory molecular cues, generated as a result of cortical damage, into a functional response. More often than not the response is one of growth cone collapse, axonal retraction and neuronal death. Deciphering the precise molecular and biochemical mediators modulating retraction and collapse of the axonal network during neuronal death following cerebral ischemia represents an enormous potential for rational development of strategies for neuroprotection and regeneration. We employ genomics, proteomics, pharmacology and convergence technologies, such as mass spectrometry based imaging of brain peptides and lipids, to investigate fundamental mechanisms of neuroprotection and recovery after stroke. Based on these mechanistic studies novel approaches are being developed to protect the brain and to stimulate brain repair following stroke. We specifically focus on the following three areas:

◆Development of clinical relevant animal models to investigate molecular mechanisms of neuronal necroptosis: a specialized pathway of programmed cell death and development of drugs which protect neurons against necroptosis.

◆Investigation of molecular mechanisms of microglial activation and its impact on signaling pathways of neuronal necroptosis.

◆Establishment of mass spectrometry based imaging technologies to investigate changes of brain peptides and lipids during neuronal necroptosis.


Professional Experience :

2008-2013 Group Leader, Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada

2005-2013 Senior Research Officer (tenured), Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council

2005-2013 Chair, Institute Biohazard Committee, Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada

2002- 2015 Adjunct Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, University of Ottawa, Canada

2007- 2016 Special Invited Expert, Wenzhou Medical University.

2002- 2005 Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University,

2000-2005 Associate Research Officer (tenured), Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council Canada.

1996-2000 Assistant Research Officer, Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council Canada.

1993-1996 Research Associate (Postdoctoral Fellow): Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK,

1991-1993 Postdoctoral Fellow: Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, University of London, UK,

1988-1991 Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow, UK


Educational Background :

1988-1991 Ph.D. Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow

1984-1987 M.Sc. Northeast Normal University, China,

1980-1984 B.Sc. Liaoning Normal University, China,


Honors & Awards :

2012 Fifteen Year Service Award, National Research Council Canada

2009 Invited Expert Professorship, Wenzhou Medical University

2007 Five Year Service Award, University of Ottawa

2006 Ten Year Service Award, National Research Council Canada

2004 Research Exchange Award, NRC-British Council S&T Fund, Canada/UK

2003 Research Exchange Award, NRC-British Council S&T Fund, Canada/UK

(Jointly held with Prof RA Smith)

2002 Travel award, Intl Society of CBF & M Symposium, Okayama, Japan

2001 Travel award, Intl Society for Neurochemistry, Warsaw, Poland.

1991-1993 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Medical Research Council, UK.

1993-1995 Postdoctoral Fellowship, BBSRC, UK.

1988-1991 Glasgow University Research Student Scholarship, UK.

1988-1991 The Principal and Vice-chancellor’s Committee Overseas Research Student Award, UK.


Selected Publication :

* indicating corresponding author


1. Hou ST * (2013) Neuronal Guidance. In “ Encyclopedia of Genetics ” (Sydney Brenner Ed). Academic Press. 1138-40.

2. Hou ST*, Jiang SX, Aylsworth A, Cooke M, Zhou L. (2013) Collapsin response mediator protein 3 deacetylates histone H4 to mediate nuclear condensation and neuronal death. Sci Rep (by NATURE Group) 3:1350. doi: 10.1038/srep01350.

3. Han Z, Yang JL, Jiang SX, Hou ST* and Zheng RY*, (2013) Fast, Non-Competitive and Reversible Inhibition of NMDA-Activated Currents by 2-BFI Confers Neuroprotection. PLoS One. 8(5):e64894.

4. Gangaraju S, Sultan K, Whitehead SN, Nilchi L, Slinn J, Li X, and Hou ST* (2013) Cerebral endothelial expression of Robo1 affects brain infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils during mouse stroke recovery. Neurobiol Dis 54:24-31.

5. Liu D, Hu HY, Lin ZX, Chen DW, Zhu YY, Hou ST and Shi XJ* (2013) Quercetin deformable liposome: Preparation and efficacy against ultraviolet B induced skin damages in vitro and in vivo. J Photochem Photobiol B . 127C:8-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2013.07.014.


6. Jiang SX, Slinn, J, Aylsworth A, Hou ST*. (2012) Vimentin Participates in Microglia Activation and Neurotoxicity in Cerebral Ischemia. J Neurochem  122:764-774.

7. Whitehead SN, Gangaraju S, Aylsworth A, Hou ST* (2012) Membrane raft disruption results in neuritic retraction prior to neuronal death in cortical neurons. Biosci Trends . 6:183-91.

8. Li F, Zhang ZX, Liu YF, Xu HQ, Hou ST*, Zheng RY. (2012) 2-BFI ameliorates EAE-induced mouse spinal cord damage: Effective therapeutic time window and possible mechanisms. Brain Res . 1483:13-9. (cover page; 封面).

9. Ryan SD, Ferrier A, Sato T, O’Meara RW, De Repentigny Y, Jiang SX, Hou ST, Kothary R. (2012) Neuronal dystonin isoform 2 is a mediator of endoplasmic reticulum structure and function. Mol Biol Cell.  23:553-566.

10. Han Z, Cheng ZH, Liu S, Yang JL, Xiao MJ, Zheng RY, Hou ST*. (2012) Neurovascular protection conferred by 2-BFI treatment during rat cerebral ischemia. Biochem Biophys Res Commun . 424:544-548.

11. Hussack G, Keklikian A, Alsughayyir J, Faassen HV, Arbabi-Ghahroudi M, Hanifi-Moghadam P, Hou ST, Sad S, MacKenzie R, and Tanha J. (2012) A VL single-domain antibody library shows a high-propensity to yield non-aggregating binders. Protein Eng Des Sel . 25:313-318.


12. Whitehead SN, Chan KH, Gangaraju S, Slinn J, Li J, Hou ST* (2011) Imaging mass spectrometry detection of gangliosides species in the mouse brain following transient focal cerebral ischemia and long-term recovery. PLoS One . 6(6):e20808.

13. Wang P, Wang ZW, Lin FH, Han Z, Hou ST*, Zheng RY (2011) 2-BFI attenuates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis-induced spinal cord injury with enhanced B-CK, CaATPase, but reduced calpain activity. Biochem Biophys Res Commun . 406:152-157.

14. Wang ZW, Wang P, Lin FH, Li XL, Li XF, O’Byrne KT, Hou ST*, Zheng RY. (2011)Early-life exposure to lipopolysaccharide reduces the severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in adulthood and correlated with increased urine corticosterone and apoptotic CD4(+) T cells. Neuroscience. 193: 283-290.


15. Jiang SX, Whitehead S, Aylsworth A, Slinn J, Zurakowski B, Chan K, Li J, Hou ST*. (2010) Neuropilin 1 directly interacts with Fer kinase to mediate semaphorin 3A-induced death of cortical neurons. J Biol Chem . 285:9908-18.

16. Jiang SX, Benson CL, Zaharia LI, Abrams SR, Hou ST.* (2010) Abscisic acid does not evoke calcium influx in murine primary microglia and immortalised murine microglial BV-2 and N9 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun . 401: 435-439.

17. Han Z, Zhang HX, Tian JS, Zheng RY, Hou ST. (2010) 2-(-2-benzofuranyl)-2-imidazoline induces Bcl-2 expression and provides neuroprotection against transient cerebral ischemia in rats. Brain Res.  1361:86-92.

18. Whitehead SN, Gangaraju S, Slinn J, Hou ST*. (2010) Transient and bilateral increase in Neuropilin-1, Fer kinase and collapsin response mediator proteins within membrane rafts following unilateral occlusion of the middle cerebral artery in mouse. Brain Res . 1344:209-216.

19. Hou ST*, Jiang SX, Slinn J, O’Hare M, Karchewski L (2010) Neuropilin 2 deficiency does not affect cortical neuronal viability in response to oxygen-glucose-deprivation and transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Neurosci Res . 66:396-401.

20. Jiang SX, Zheng RY, Zeng JQ, Li XL, Han Z, Hou ST.* (2010) Reversible inhibition of intracellular calcium influx through NMDA receptors by imidazoline I(2) receptor antagonists. Eur J Pharmacol. 629:12-19.

2009-2000 (selected publications)

21. Aylsworth A, Jiang SX, Desbois A, Hou ST*. (2009)Characterization of the role of full-length CRMP3 and its calpain-cleaved product in inhibiting microtubule polymerization and neurite outgrowth. Exp Cell Res . 315(16):2856-68. (highlighted in this issue, 重点展示)

22. Hou ST*, Jiang SX, Smith RA (2008) Deciphering the cues and signaling pathways of axonal outgrowth and regeneration. Intl. Rev. Cell & Mol Biol . 267:125-187.

23. O’Hare, M and Hou, S.T. (2008) E2F in neuronal death and neurological disease. In “Control of Cellular Physiology by Transcription Factors E2F” (K. Yoshida Ed), Research Signpost. Pp. 309-319.

24. Jiang SX, Kappler J, Zurakowski B, Desbois A, Aylsworth A, Hou ST* (2007) Calpain cleavage of callapsin response mediator proteins in ischemic mouse brain. Eur J Neurosci 26, 801-809.

25. Dufty BM, Warner LR, Hou ST, Jiang SX, Gomez-Isla, T, Leenhouts KM, Oxford JT, Feany MB, Masliah E, Rohn T (2007) Calpain-cleavage of α-Synuclein: Connecting proteolytic processing to disease-linked aggregation. Am J Pathol . 170:1725-1738.

26. Jiang SX, Sheldrick M, Desbois A, Slinn J, Hou ST* (2007) Neuropilin-1 is a direct target of the transcription factor E2F1 during cerebral ischemia-induced neuronal death in vivo. Mol Cell Biol . 27:1696-1705.

27. Hou, ST*, Jiang SX, Desbois D, Huang DQ, Kelly J, Tessier L, Karchewski L, Kappler J (2006) Calpain-Cleaved Collapsin Response Mediator Protein-3 Induces Neuronal Death after Glutamate Toxicity and Cerebral Ischemia. J Neurosci 26: 2241-2249.

28. Jiang SX, Lertvorachon J, Hou ST*, Konishi Y, Webster J, Mealing G, Brunette E, Tauskela J, Preston E. (2005) Chlortetracycline and demeclocycline protect mouse neurons agasint glutamate toxicity and cerebral ischemia through inhibition of calpain. J Biol Chem  280:33811-33818.

29. Weaver JGR, Tarze A, Moffat TC, LeBras M, Deniaud A, Brenner C, Bren GD, Morin MY, Phenix BN, Miller B, Dong L, Jiang SX, Sim VL, Zurakowski B, Lallier J, Hardin H, Wettstein P, van Heeswijk RPG, Douen A, Kroemer R, Hou ST, Bennett SAL, Lynch DH, Kroemer G, Badley AD. (2005) Inhibition of Adenine Nucleotide Translocator Pore Function and Protection Against Apoptosis in vivo by an HIV Protease Inhibitor. J Clin Invest  115:1828-1838.

30. Huang, D., Desbois, A. and Hou, ST* (2005) A novel adenoviral vector which mediates hypoxia-inducible gene expression selectively in neurons. Gene Therapy  12:1369-1376.

31. Hou,ST*. Xie,X., Baggley,A., Park,D.S., Chen,G., and Walker,T. (2002) Activation of the Rb/E2F1 pathway by the non-proliferative p38 MAP kinase during Fas (APO1/CD95)-mediated neuronal apoptosis. J Biol Chem . 277, 48764-48770.

32. O’Hare, M.J., Hou, ST., Morris, E.J., Cregan, S.P., Xu, Q., Slack, R.S., Park, D.S.(2000) Induction and modulation of cerebellar granule neuron death by E2F-1. J Biol Chem . 275:25358-64.

33. Giovanni, A., Keramaris, E., Morris, E.J., Hou, ST., O’Hare, M., Dyson, N., Robertson, G.S., Slack, R.S., Park, D.S.(2000) E2F1 mediates death of B-amyloid-treated cortical neurons in a manner independent of p53 and dependent on Bax and caspase 3. J Biol Chem . 275:11553-60.


Other Info :

◆ Adjunct Professors of Beijing Normal University, Wenzhou Medical University, Liaoning University

◆ Editorial Board Members for European Journal of Pharmacology (Elsevier), Bioscience Trends (Japan), The Open Journal of Neuroscience (USA), and World Journal of Biological Chemistry (USA).

◆ Ad hoc regular corresponding reviewer for more than 30 international SCI journals, such as Nat Neurosci; J Neurosci, Brain, and J Clin Invest, etc.

◆Invited regular ad hoc reviewer, review committee members and/or chairs for more than 10 national and international funding agencies from USA, Canada, China, UK and Israel, such as

· American Alzheimer’s Society,

· National Natural Science Foundation of China,

· Canada-China Joint Health Initiative,

· CIHR - University-Industry Peer Review Committee

· NSERC Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship Selection Committee

· NRC Women in Science and Engineering Program Evaluation Committee

· Industry Canada (Grant Review)

Israel National Science Foundation

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