Xiao-Ming Xu

Xiao-Ming Xu, PhD

Mari Hulman George Professor of Neuroscience Research


Visit the Xu Lab website to learn more


The goal of our laboratory is to study mechanisms underlying spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to develop novel repair strategies to promote neural reorganization and functional recovery in experimental models of these injuries. Our long-term goal is to translate promising treatments from animal models to humans, including our veterans.

To reach these goals, two lines of research are being conducted. The first line of research is on neuroprotection. Our lab was among the first to report apoptosis following acute SCI, and to report phospholipase A2 as a key mediator of secondary SCI. The second line of research is on axonal regeneration. We were among the first to transplant Schwann cells (SCs) into injured spinal cords to promote axonal regeneration and recovery of function. In addition to SCs, we also transplant other glial cells including oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived immature astrocytes in their ability to support neural circuitry reorganization and recovery of function. These cell-based strategies are combined with other efficacious treatments on boosting intrinsic and extrinsic regenerative capacities. We are particularly interested in promoting regeneration and/or reorganization of long descending supraspinal axons such as those from the corticospinal tract (CST), the rubrospinal (RST) and the descending propriospinal tract (dPST).

In our research, we apply cutting-edge and multidisciplinary approaches including novel injury models, cellular and molecular biology, in vivo imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiology, behavioral, and histology/immunohistochemistry approaches.


About Dr. Xu:

Dr. Xiao-Ming Xu received his Medical Diploma (1975) from Shanghai Second Medical University (now Shanghai Jiaoting University School of Medicine), Master of Medicine from Shanghai Medical University (MM, now Fudan University School of Medicine), and Ph.D. in Anatomy/Neurobiology from The Ohio State University (OSU, Columbus, OH). He is currently a Professor and Mari Hulman George Chair of Neurological Surgery, and the Scientific Director of the Indiana University Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Group (ISCBIRG) at the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute (SNRI), Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM). Dr. Xu is also a VA Research Scientist (GS-15) at Roudebush VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Indianapolis, IN Dr. Xu’s research has focused on neuroprotection, and cell transplantation-mediated axonal regeneration and recovery of function following spinal cord injury (SCI). He has received continuous support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for over 20 years. He has also received support from the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Craig H Neilsen Foundation. He has served as a standing member on NIH study sections CNNT (2006-2010) and NSD-A (2012-2018). He has published over 170 research papers in prestige scientific journals such as Nature Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Annals of Neurology, Cerebral Cortex, Glia, and Journal of Neurotrauma. He has edited 3 books entitled “Animal Models of Acute Neurological Injuries (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)” and “Neural Regeneration”. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neural Regeneration Research. He is on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Neurotrauma, Experimental Neurology, and Cell Transplantation. He is the Organizing Committee Co-Chair of the International Neural Regeneration Symposiums (2011-2018).

Key Publications

Walker CL, Wu X, Liu NK, Xu XM. Bisperoxovanadium Mediates Neuronal Protection through Inhibition of PTEN and Activation of PI3K/AKT-mTOR Signaling after Traumatic Spinal Injuries. J Neurotrauma. 2019 Mar 28.

Lin X, Zhao T, Xiong W, Wen S, Jin X, Xu XM. Imaging Neural Activity in the Primary Somatosensory Cortex Using Thy1-GCaMP6s Transgenic Mice. J Vis Exp. 2019 Jan 7

Walker CL, Fry CME, Wang J, Du X, Zuzzio K, Liu NK, Walker MJ, Xu XM. Functional and Histological Gender Comparison of Age-Matched Rats after Moderate Thoracic Contusive Spinal Cord Injury. J Neurotrauma. 2019 Jun 15

Wang Y, Wu W, Wu X, Sun Y, Zhang YP, Deng LX, Walker MJ, Qu W, Chen C, Liu NK, Han Q, Dai H, Shields LB, Shields CB, Sengelaub DR, Jones KJ, Smith GM, Xu XM. Remodeling of lumbar motor circuitry remote to a thoracic spinal cord injury promotes locomotor recovery. Elife. 2018 Sep 12

Sengelaub DR, Xu XM. Protective effects of gonadal hormones on spinal motoneurons following spinal cord injury. Neural Regen Res. 2018 Jun;13

Walker MJ, Xu XM. History of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) and Its Use for Spinal Cord Injury Repair. Brain Sci. 2018 Jun 13

Chen C, Zhang YP, Sun Y, Xiong W, Shields L, Shields CB, Jin X, and Xu X-M* (2017) An in vivo Duo-color Method for imaging Vascular Dynamics Following Contusive Spinal Cord Injury. J. Vis. Exp.  (accepted)

Lin XJ, Zhao T, Xiong W, Wen S, Jin X, Xu X-M* (2017) Imaging neural activity in the primary somatosensory cortex using Thy1-GCaMP6s transgenic mice. J. Vis. Exp. (accepted)

Al-Ali H, Ding Y, Slepak T, Wu W, Sun Y, Martinez Y, Xu X-M*, Lemmon V*, Bixby J* (2017) The mTOR substrate S6 Kinase 1 (S6K1) is a negative regulator of axon regeneration and a potential drug target for Central Nervous System. J. Neurosci.

Wu W, Xiong W, Zhang YP, Chen L, Fang J, Shields CB,Xu X-M*, Jin X* (2017) Increased threshold of short-latency motor evoked potentials in transgenic mice expressing Channelrhodopsin-2.  Plus ONE (accepted).

Lee HJ, Zhang D, Jiang Y, Wu XB, Shih P-Y, Liao C-S, Bungart B, Xu X-M, Drenan R, Bartlett E, Cheng J-X (2017) Label-free vibrational spectroscopic imaging of neuronal membrane potential. J. Physical Chem. Ltr. 8:1932-1936

Wu XB, Zhang YP, Qu W, Shields LBE, Shields CB, and Xu X-M* (2017) A Tissue Displacement Based Contusive Spinal Cord Injury Model in Mice. J. Vis. Exp. (124) e54988, doi:10.3791/54988.


(317) 274-1036 

Neurological Surgery
Indiana University Health Neuroscience Research Bldg. 320 W. 15th Street, Suite 514C
Indianapolis, IN 46202


Titles & Appointments

  • Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Adjunct Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology
  • Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology