Dr. Feng Tao

Associate Professor
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Member of the GSBS Faculty

3302 Gaston Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75246
Phone: 214-828-8272
Fax: 214-874-4538
Email: tao@tamhsc.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


My research interests focus 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. My laboratory combines plantar incision with stress or chronic alcohol consumption to investigate the pain transition process after surgery. We found that stress or chronic alcohol consumption induces the transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain through the regulation of AMPA receptor function. Our results identified stress and chronic alcohol consumption as risk factors for the development of chronic neuropathic pain after surgery. These findings help us predict which patients are at greater risk for developing chronic pain after surgical procedures. 

My 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, we will utilize optogenetic manipulation to investigate the mechanisms by which neuromodulation controls pain.

Recently, I have 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. In this study, we 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.

Recent Grants

  • Gender differences in stress-induced pain transition after surgery. NIH/NIDCR R01 DE022880-0551, 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2016 (PI)
  • A new animal model for stress-induced transition from acute to chronic pain. NIH/NIDCR R01 DE022880, 07/01/2012-06/30/2017 (PI)
  • A novel stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury-induced chronic neuropathic pain. Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (2009-MSCRFII-0014-00), 07/01/2009-06/30/2014 (Co-PI)
  • Unveiling the antinociceptive effect of motor cortex stimulation using optogenetics. The Blaustein Pain Research Grant, 01/01/2014-12/31/2014 (PI)
  • Targeting PDZ to unravel early anesthetic exposure-produced cognitive dysfunction. NIH/NIGMS R01 GM110674, 05/01/2014-03/31/2018 (Co-I)

Selected Publications 

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • F Tao, XX He, WY Hu. 1997 Clinical significance of measuring carotid artery blood flow velocity in TIA patients. J Clinical Neurology 10:253
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

National Service / Recognition

  • 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