Dr. Feng Tao

Associate Professor
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Member of the Texas A&M Graduate Faculty 

3302 Gaston Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75246
Phone: 214-828-8272
Fax: 214-874-4538
Email: ftao81@tamu.edu 

 Education and Post-Graduate Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD (2000-2005)
  • Ph.D., Neurobiology, Fudan University Shanghai Medical College, Shanghai, China (2000)
  • M.S., Neurophysiology, Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, China (1992)
  • M.D., Medicine, Wannan Medical College, Wuhu, China (1986)

Career History

  • Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University College of Dentistry (2014-present)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2009-2014)
  • Instructor, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2007-2009)
  • Research Associate, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2005-2006)
  • Physician (Neurology), Department of Neurology, Nanjing Medical University Brain Hospital (1992-1997)
  • Teaching/Research Assistant, Department of Physiology, Wannan Medical College (1986-1989)

Teaching Interests

  • Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology of Pain

Research Interests 

Dr. Tao's research interests focuses on the central mechanisms underlying pain transmission and the transition from acute to chronic pain after surgery. To date, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the transition from adaptive acute pain to maladaptive chronic pain have not been fully understood. Chronic postsurgical pain provides a special opportunity to study pathogenic mechanisms for the transition from an acute to a chronic pain state. Previous studies have shown that psychosocial and socio-environmental factors are involved in the development of chronic postsurgical pain. Dr. Tao's laboratory combines plantar incision with stress or chronic alcohol consumption to investigate the pain transition process after surgery. It was found that stress or chronic alcohol consumption induces the transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain through the regulation of AMPA receptor function. The results identified stress and chronic alcohol consumption as risk factors for the development of chronic neuropathic pain after surgery. These findings help predict which patients are at greater risk for developing chronic pain after surgical procedures. 

His laboratory also characterizes the antinociceptive effect of neuromodulation using optogenetics. In the clinic, use of invasive electrical or non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation of brain structures has been reported for the alleviation of intractable chronic pain. However, the mechanisms underlying the antinociceptive effect of neuromodulation remain to be illustrated. The recent development of optogenetics, a revolutionary research tool, combines the delivery of light having specific wavelengths (opto) with the introduction of genes encoding light-sensitive transmembrane channels (genetics) and makes possible highly precise spatial and temporal control of specific neuronal populations. In this project, they will utilize optogenetic manipulation to investigate the mechanisms by which neuromodulation controls pain.

Recently, Dr. Tao has developed a new line of research to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of migraine headache. Migraine is the third most common disease worldwide. However, the pathophysiology contributing to migraine headache is still unclear. This study will determine the role of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of migraine headache, which in turn may lead to important insights into developing a new therapy for migraine.

Lab Members

  • Current Members:
    • Feng Tao (PI)
    • Sufang Liu (Postdoc Research Associate)
    • Hui Shu (Graduate Student)
    • Joshua Crawford (Graduate Student)
    • Jason Mao (Graduate Student)
    • Yajing Ma (Research Assistant)
    • Sanjeeth George (Dental Student)
  • Lab alumni
    • Qian Bai (Visiting Scholar)
    • Yuanyuan Tang (Visiting Scholar)
    • Delton Tatum (Dental Student)
    • Xiaoju Zou (Research Associate)
    • Ziying Zhao (Postdoc Fellow)
    • Jeffrey He (Dental Student)
    • Ruchi Patel (Undergraduate Student)
    • Sameen Khan (Undergraduate Student)
    • Jeremy Chen (Postdoc Fellow)

Grants and Funding

  • A new animal model for stress-induced transition from acute to chronic pain. NIH/NIDCR R01 DE022880 (PI)
  • NIDCR Independent Scientist Award. NIH/NIDCR K02 DE023551 (PI)
  • Gender differences in stress-induced pain transition after surgery. NIH/NIDCR R01 DE022880-05S1 (PI)
  • Estradiol and Zoster Associated Orofacial Pain. NIH/NIDCR R01 DE026749 (Co-I)
  • Unveiling the antinociceptive effect of motor cortex stimulation using optogenetics. The Blaustein Pain Research Grant (PI)
  • A novel stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury-induced chronic neuropathic pain. Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (Co-PI)
  • Texas A&M University Interdisciplinary Faculty T3 Award (PI)

Selected Publications 

  1. F Tao, QF Su, JR Zhang. 1994 Analysis of the acetylcholine action on the electrical activities of pancreatic islet B-cells in mice. Acta Physiologica Sinica 46:105-111
  2. F Tao, XX He, WY Hu. 1997 Clinical significance of measuring carotid artery blood flow velocity in TIA patients. J Clinical Neurology 10:253
  3. F Tao, LM Zhang, FY Sun. 1999 Hypoxia-ischemia altered expression of glutamate transporter EAAT1 in neonatal rat brain. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 20:107-111
  4. F Tao, SD Lu, LM Zhang, YL Huang, FY Sun. 2001 Role of glutamate transporter EAAT1 in neuronal damage induced by hypoxia-ischemia in neonatal rats. Neuroscience 102:503-513
  5. F Tao, Y-X Tao, JA Gonzalez, M Fang, P Mao, RA Johns. 2001 Knockdown of PSD-95/SAP90 delays the development of neuropathic pain in rats. NeuroReport 12:3251-3255
  6. M Fang, Y-X Tao, F He, M Zhang, CF Levine, P Mao, F Tao, C-L Chou, S Sadegh-Nasseri, RA Johns. 2003 Synaptic PDZ domain-mediated protein interactions are disrupted by inhalational anesthetics. J Biol Chem 278:36669-36675
  7. F Tao, Y-X Tao, P Mao, C Zhao, D Li, W-J Liaw, SN Raja, RA Johns. 2003 Intact carrageenan-induced thermal hyperalgesia in mice lacking inducible nitric oxide synthase. Neuroscience 120:847-854
  8. Y-X Tao, G Rumbaugh, G-D Wang, RS Petralia, C Zhao, FW Kauer, F Tao, M Zhuo, RJ Wenthold, SN Raja, RL Huganir, DS Bredt, RA Johns. 2003 Impaired NMDA receptor-mediated postsynaptic function and blunted NMDA receptor-dependent persistent pain in mice lacking postsynaptic density-93 protein. J Neurosci 23:6703-6712
  9. F Tao, Y-X Tao, P Mao, RA Johns. 2003 Role of postsynaptic density protein-95 in the maintenance of peripheral nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain in rats. Neuroscience 117:731-739
  10. B Zhang, F Tao, W-J Liaw, DS Bredt, RA Johns, Y-X Tao. 2003 Effect of knock down of spinal cord PSD-93/chapsin-110 on persistent pain induced by complete Freund’s adjuvant and peripheral nerve injury. Pain 106:187-196
  11. F Tao, W-J Liaw, B Zhang, M Yaster, JD Rothstein, RA Johns, Y-X Tao. 2004 Evidence of neuronal excitatory amino acid carrier 1 expression in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons and their central terminals. Neuroscience 123:1045-1051
  12. W-J Liaw, B Zhang, F Tao, M Yaster, RA Johns, Y-X Tao. 2004 Knockdown of spinal cord postsynaptic density protein-95 prevents the development of morphine tolerance in rats. Neuroscience 123:11-15
  13. F Tao, Y-X Tao, C Zhao, S Dore, W-J Liaw, SN Raja, RA Johns. 2004 Differential roles of neuronal and endothelial nitric oxide synthases during carrageenan-induced inflammatory hyperalgesia. Neuroscience 128:421-430
  14. F Tao, J Skinner, Q Su, RA Johns. 2006 New role for spinal stargazin in AMPA receptor-mediated pain sensitization after inflammation. J Neurosci Res 84:867-873
  15. F Tao, RA Johns. 2008 Effect of disrupting N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor/postsynaptic density protein-95 interactions on the threshold for halothane anesthesia in mice. Anesthesiology 108:882-887
  16. F Tao*, Q Su, RA Johns. 2008 Cell-permeable peptide Tat-PSD-95 PDZ2 inhibits chronic inflammatory pain behaviors in mice. Mol Ther 16:1776-1782 (*corresponding author)
  17. F Tao, J Skinner, Y Yang, RA Johns. 2010 Effect of PSD-95/SAP90 and/or PSD-93/Chapsyn-110 deficiency on the minimum alveolar anesthetic concentration of halothane in mice. Anesthesiology 112:1444-1451
  18. X Chi, T Amet, D Byrd, K Chang, K Shah, N Hu, A Grantham, S Hu, J Duan, F Tao, G Nicol, Q Yu. 2011 Direct effects of HIV-1 Tat on excitability and survival of primary dorsal root ganglion neurons: possible contribution to HIV-1-associated pain. PLoS ONE 6:e24412
  19. F Tao*, Q Li, S Liu, H Wu, J Skinner, A Hurtado, V Belegu, O Furmanski, Y Yang, JW McDonald, RA Johns. 2013 Role of neuregulin-1/ErbB signaling in stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury-induced chronic neuropathic pain. Stem Cells 31:83-91 (*co-corresponding author)
  20. C Li, S Liu, Y Xing, F Tao*. 2014 Role of hippocampal tau protein phosphorylation in isoflurane-induced cognitive dysfunction in transgenic APP695 mice. Anesthesia & Analgesia 119:413-419 ( *corresponding author)
  21. C Li, Y Yang, S Liu, H Fang, Y Zhang, O Furmanski, J Skinner, Y Xing, RA Johns, RL Huganir, F Tao*.  2014   Stress induces pain transition by potentiation of AMPA receptor phosphorylation.  J Neurosci 34:13737-13746 (* corresponding author)
  22. F Tao, Q Chen, Y Sato, J Skinner, P Tang, RA Johns.  2015  Inhalational anesthetics disrupt postsynaptic density protein-95, Drosophila disc large tumor suppressor and zonula occludens-1 domain protein interactions critical to action of several excitatory receptor channels related to anesthesia.  Anesthesiology 122:776-786.
  23. S Liu, C Li, Y Xing, Y Wang, F Tao. 2016.  Role of neuromodulation and optogenetic manipulation in pain treatment.  Curr Neuropharmacol.  14:654-661.
  24. C Li, M Schaefer, C Gray, Y Yang, O Furmanski, S Liu, P Worley, CD Mintz, F Tao, RA Johns. 2016  Sensitivity to isoflurane anesthesia increases in autism spectrum disorder Shank3+/Δc mutant mouse model. Neurotoxicol Teratol Nov. 14/. pii:S0892-0362 (16)30133-7. doi: 10.1016/jntt.2016.11002.
  25. S Liu, Z Zhao, Y Guo, H Shu, C Li, Y Tang, Y Xing, F Tao*. 2017 Spinal AMPA receptor GluA1 Ser831 phosphorylation controls chronic alcohol consumption-produced prolongation of postsurgical pain. Mol Neurobiol doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0639-7 (*corresponding author)
  26. S Liu, C Li, Y Guo, Y Xing, F Tao*. 2017 PKMζ is not required for development of postsurgical pain. Mol Neurobiol doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0499-1 (*corresponding author)
  27. Y Tang, S Liu, H Shu, Y Xing, F Tao*. 2018 AMPA receptor GluA1 Ser831 phosphorylation is critical for nitroglycerin-induced migraine-like pain. Neuropharmacology 133:462-469 (*corresponding author)
  28. Q Bai, S Liu, H Shu, Y Tang, S George, T Dong, BL Schmidt, F Tao*. 2018 TNFα in the trigeminal nociceptive system is critical for temporomandibular joint pain. Mol Neurobiol doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1076 (*corresponding author)
  29.  S Liu, Y Tang, Y Xing, P Kramer, L Bellinger, F Tao*. 2019 Potential application of optogenetic stimulation in the treatment of pain and migraine headache: a perspective from animal studies. Brain Sci 9(2):26 doi: 10.3390/brainsci9020026 (*corresponding author)
  30.  S Liu, Y Tang, H Shu, D Tatum, Q Bai, J Crawford, Y Xing, MK Lobo, L Bellinger, P Kramer, F Tao*. 2019 Dopamine receptor D2, but not D1, mediates descending dopaminergic pathway-produced
       analgesic effect in a trigeminal neuropathic pain mouse model. Pain 160:334-344 (*corresponding author)
  31. ZW Kou, JL Mo, KW Wu, MH Qiu, YL Huang, F Tao, Y Lei, LL Lv, FY Sun. 2019 Vascular endothelial growth factor increases the function of calcium-impermeable AMPA receptor GluA2 subunit in
       astrocytes via activation of protein kinase C signaling pathway. Glia 67:1344-1358
  32. C Li, S Liu, X Lu, F Tao*. 2019 Role of Descending Dopaminergic Pathways in Pain Modulation. Current Neuropharmacology 17:1176-1182 (*corresponding author)  
  33. Y Tang, S Liu, H Shu, L Yanagisawa, F Tao*. 2020 Gut microbiota dysbiosis enhances migraine-like pain via TNFα upregulation. Molecular Neurobiology 57:461-468 (*corresponding author)
  34. Y Ma, S Liu, H Shu, J Crawford, Y Xing, F Tao*. 2020 Resveratrol alleviates temporomandibular joint inflammatory pain by recovering disturbed gut microbiota. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity PMID: 32001342, DOI: 10.1016/j/bbi.2020.01.016 (*corresponding author)
  35. H Shu, S Liu, Y Tang, B Schmidt, J Dolan, L Bellinger, P Kramer, S Bender, F Tao*. 2020 A preexisting myogenic TMD increases trigeminal CGRP and enhances NTG-induced hypersensitivity in mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (in press, *corresponding author)

 National Service / Recognition

  • 2020 Invited Reviewer, NIH HEAL Initiative Special Panel, USA
  • 2020-present Member of Editorial Board, Frontiers in Pain Research
  • 2020 Invited Member of “Sigma Xi” Scientific Research Honor Society
  • 2018-present Member of Editorial Board, Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
  • 2018 Invited Reviewer, NIH CSR Grant Review, USA
  • 2017 Member of Editorial Board, Current Neurobiology
  • 2017 Invited Reviewer, The French National Research Agency (ANR), France
  • 2017 Elected member of Faculty Senate at Texas A&M University
  • 2017 Basic Science Faculty Research Award at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry
  • 2016 Outstanding Abstract Award in 2016 International Neural Regeneration Symposium
  • 2016 Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Anesthesia & Pain Medicine
  • 2015 Member of Editorial Board, International Journal of Neurology Research
  • 2015 Invited Reviewer, Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Spinal Cord Injury and Neuropathic Pain Panel
  • 2015 Elected member of “Board of Directors” at Texas Pain Research Consortium
  • 2014 NIH NRCS Study Section, USA
  • 2014 Member of Editorial Board, Neural Regeneration Research
  • 2014 Invited Reviewer, The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership Regenerative Medicine Initiative, UK
  • 2014 Invited Reviewer, Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, USA
  • 2014 Invited Reviewer, Wings for Life−Spinal Cord Research Foundation, Austria
  • 2013 Member of Editorial Board, American Journal of Stem Cells
  • 2013 Organizing Committee Member and Session Chair in the 2nd International Conference on Surgery and Anesthesia. 2013, Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • 2013 Co-chair of Track 5-15 (Pain and Headache) in the 4th World Congress of NeuroTalk. 2013, Xi’an, China
  • 2012-present Member of Editorial Board, Analgesia & Resuscitation: Current Research
  • 2012 Invited Reviewer, Wings for Life−Spinal Cord Research Foundation, Austria
  • 2011-present Member of Editorial Board, World Journal of Experimental Medicine
  • 2010 Gold Medal Poster Award in the 12th Annual ACCM Research Day
  • 2009 Mail Reviewer, NSF-sponsored Pilot Funding at Louisiana State University
  • 2008 Best Oral Presentation Award in the 10th Annual ACCM Research Day
  • 2003 Shanghai Medical Science & Technology Award (1st grade)
  • 2003-present Peer Reviewer, Journal of Neuroscience Research; Neuropharmacology; Trends in Neurosciences; Anesthesiology; NeuroReport; Neuroscience; Brain Research; Naunyn-Schmiedeberg Archives of Pharmacology; Brain Research Bulletin; Molecules; Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience; Journal of Neuroinflammation; Pharmaceuticals; Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment; Neural Regeneration Research; Pain; Journal of Neuroscience
  • 1999 Orient Scholarship
  • 1998 United Medical Education Scholarship
  • 1992 GuangHua Scholarship