Faculty and Staff

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  • Hong Zhu, MD, PhD

    zhu, hong.jpgProfessor, Division of Research
    Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences
    Adjunct Faculty of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences
    Office: R724
    Phone: (601) 815-3098
    Fax: (601) 984-5085
    Email: hozhu@umc.edu


    • MD, Beijing Union University - Traditional Medicine College, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China, 1992
    • PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Pharmacology, 1999
    • Postdoctorate Fellowship, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, 1999-2002 


    • Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative UMMC, 2002-08
    • Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, UMMC, 2008-2013
    • Professor, Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, UMMC, 2013-present

    Research interests

    • Vestibular neurophysiology
    • Vestibular acoustic trauma

    Research program

    hong zhu.jpgNeural mechanism of sound activation of the vestibular system

    The overall objective of the project is to provide the neural basis for human VEMP testing (vestibular evoked myogenic potentials) by examining input-output functions of vestibular afferent responses to clinical VEMP stimuli. Since the discovery of cervical neck muscle myogenic potentials in 1992, there has been a rapid growth of VEMP publications and clinical use. Investigators worldwide have used the VEMPs to characterize vestibular deficiencies related to aging and a variety of peripheral and central vestibulopathies, including Tullio/superior canal dehiscence syndrome, vestibular neuritis, Ménière's disease and tumors. The application is motivated by two basic facts. First, there is a need of rigorous animal basic science research on the neural basis for VEMP testing. Second, our studies clearly demonstrated that the canal as well as otolith afferents responded to VEMP stimuli. Since neck muscles receive inputs from both the canals and the otoliths, our results cast doubt on the current interpretation of VEMP testing, and call into question which vestibular organs are responsible for VEMP responses under various experimental and clinical conditions-knowledge important for clinical design of discriminating VEMP tests and interpretation of clinical results. In the project, we examine single unit vestibular afferent responses from identified organs to air-conducted and bone-conducted sound stimuli that are used clinically. Furthermore, we employ intra-axonal labeling to anatomically identify the end organs that are innervated by sound sensitive vestibular afferents. We determine if certain sound stimuli preferentially activate specific vestibular end organs. Our preliminary results support this idea and have shown that sound stimuli with certain intensity and frequency preferentially activate the otoliths vs. the canals. The results from the proposed experiments would lead to optimal VEMP testing protocols and interpretive guidelines.

    Noise-induced vestibular deficits

    The vestibular system is exquisitely sensitive to head rotation, translation, and movement with respect to gravity. Because the anatomic proximity of the vestibular labyrinth to the sound delivery system, they are also impacted by acoustic stimulation. It has been shown that large proportion of subjects experiencing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) also exhibit signs of vestibular deficiency. The mechanisms of NIHL have been extensively investigated, however, the mechanisms underlying the accompanying vestibular deficits remain to be elucidated.  The goal of the current project is to fill this important knowledge gap by examining the effects of noise exposure on vestibular end organ morphology and vestibular afferents' sensitivity to head rotation and linear translation.

    Current funding

    • “Neural mechanisms of sound activation of vestibular system.”  NIH R01 DC012060-01, 05/01/2012-04/30/2017,   Role: PI.
    • “Countermeasures to effects of radiation on vestibular functions in rats.” NASA/EPSCoR MSI proposal award NNX12AK85A, 08/01/2012-09/30/2015, Role:Co-PI.

    Selected publications

    • Zhu H, Tang X, Wei W, Maklad A, Mustain M, Rabbitt R, Highstein S and Zhou W. Input-output functions of vestibular afferent responses to air-conducted clicks in rats. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol, 15 (1), 73-86, 2014.
    • Luis L, Zhu H*, Costa J, Valls-Solé J, Brandt T, Zhou W, Schneider E. Reply to the Commentary on Luis et al. “Spontaneous Plugging of the Horizontal Semicircular Canal With Reversible Canal Dysfunction and Recovery of Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials” Otol Neurotol. Feb;35(2):379-383,  2014. (*as co-first author)
    • Wei W, Jeffcoat B, Mustain W, Xu Y, Eby T, Zhu H, Tang X, Zhou W. Vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) recorded from different sites of the sternocleidomastoid muscles in normal human subjects. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol, 14(1):37-47, 2013.
    • Zhu H, Tang X, Wei W, Xu Y, Mustain W and Zhou W, Click-evoked responses in vestibular afferents in rats. J. Neurophysiol. 106(2):754-763, 2011. PMID:21613592
    • Zhu, H., Zhou, W., Discharge activities of neurons in the nucleus paragigantocellularis during the development of morphine tolerance and dependence: A single unit study in chronically implanted rats. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 636: 65-72, 2010.
    • Zhu H, Jordan JR, Hardy SPG, Fulcher B, Childress C, Varner C, Windham B, Jeffcoat B, Rockhold RW and Zhou W. Linear acceleration-evoked cardiovascular responses in awake rats.  J Appl Physiol 103: 646-654, 2007.
    • Zhu, H. and Zhou, W. Excitatory amino acid receptors are involved in the morphine-induced synchronous oscillatory discharges in the locus coeruleus. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 528:73-78, 2005.
    • Zhu, H. and Zhou, W. Morphine-induced potentiation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus involves norepinephrine. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 467:141-4; 2003.
    • Zhu, H. and Zhou, W. Morphine induces synchronous oscillatory discharges in the rat locus coeruleus. J. Neurosci. 21:RC179 (1-5), 2001.

    Recent abstracts

    • Yue Yu, Jun Huang, David Sandlin, Courtney Jernigan, Jerome Allison, Hong Zhu, Wu Zhou. Effects of Blast Overpressure Exposure on the Rotational and Translational Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex (VOR) in Rats. ARO abstract submitted.
    • Courtney Jernigan, Yue Yu, Xuehui Tang, Jun Huang, Emily Gomez, Adel Maklad, Jerome Allison, David Sandlin, Justin Hyde, William Mustain, Wu Zhou, Hong Zhu. The Effect of High Intensity Noise on the peripheral vestibular system in Rats. ARO abstract submitted.
    • Zhu H, Huang J, Tang X, Yu Y, Hyde J, Ding D, Maklad A, Mustain M, Jernigan C, Yelverton E, Gomez E, Zhou W. Blast-induced vestibular deficits in rats. Program No. 335.10/FF23  Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Washington DC Society for Neuroscience, 2014.
    • Jun Huang, Song Kun, Youguo Xu, Ivra Simpson, K. Kosek, Yifeng Zhou, Hong Zhu, Wu Zhou, Huan Luo. Time-frequency analysis of the precue effects on saccade latency in behaving monkeys. Annual meeting of Society for Neuroscience, 2014.
    • Zhou W, Huang J, Xu Y, Simpson I, Wei W, Kosek K and Zhu H. Corollary discharge of head motor commands mediates primate gaze control and eye-head coordination. Annual meeting of Society for Neuroscience, 2014.
    • Mao J, Tang X, Huang J, Yang C, Scott A, Rayford M, Zhou W, Zhu H. Effects of electron irradiation on vestibular function in rats. ARO meeting abstract 2014.
    • Scott A, M Shen, Tang X, Huang J, Yang C, Zhou W, Zhu H. Mao J, The Effects of High Energy Radiation on the Vestibular and Immune Function in Rats. Experimental biology meeting abstract, 2014.
    • Zhu H, Tang X, Huang J, Mustain M, House L, Zhou W. Tone burst-evoked responses in the vestibular nuclei of rats. Program No. 164.03/LL7 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. San Diego, CA: Society for Neuroscience, 2013.

    Accomplishments and honors

    • 2014 - Excellent in Research Award Gold level, UMMC
    • 2013 - Excellent in Research Award Silver level, UMMC