Staff Profile: Hu Zhu

Hu Zhu, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist (Biology)

Division of Preclinical Innovation
Early Translation Branch

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

Email Hu Zhu


Hu Zhu is a staff scientist (biology) in the Early Translation Branch within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation, where he has been working with extramural and NIH intramural collaborators to develop and optimize both biochemical and cell-based assays for automated, small-molecule and high-throughput screening. His research portfolio covers a diverse range of human diseases, including oncologic, metabolic and neurological diseases. Prior to joining NCATS in 2015, Zhu received his postdoctoral training under Bryan L. Roth, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). At UNC, Zhu studied multiple G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), including the muscarinic M3/M4 receptor, serotonin 5-HT2C receptor, κ-opioid receptor and orphan GPR68 receptor. He also used genetically modified muscarinic receptors to dissect the neuronal circuitry in mouse hippocampus and raphe nuclei.

Zhu completed five years of medical training and received his bachelor’s degree from Nanjing Medical University in China. Zhu received his doctorate in physiology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he worked with Hsiao Chang Chan, Ph.D., on the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. He has published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Research Topics

Zhu’s research focuses on developing new assays and identifying probes for orphan or understudied GPCRs using ultra-high-throughput screening, developing anti-GPCR functional antibody/nanobody platforms and identifying functional antibodies/nanobodies for pain/addiction-related GPCR targets, and identifying small-molecule modulators for cancer immunotherapy.

Selected Publications

  1. Identification of Activators of Human Fumarate Hydratase by Quantitative High-Throughput Screening
  2. Expanding Biological Space Coverage Enhances the Prediction of Drug Adverse Effects in Human Using In Vitro Activity Profiles
  3. A New DREADD Facilitates the Multiplexed Chemogenetic Interrogation of Behavior
  4. Allosteric Ligands for the Pharmacologically Dark Receptors GPR68 and GPR65
  5. Chemogenetic Inactivation of Ventral Hippocampal Glutamatergic Neurons Disrupts Consolidation of Contextual Fear Memory