The Han Lab

The Han lab studies the mechanisms of dendrite morphogenesis using Drosophila sensory neurons as a model system.

Drosophila dendritic arborization (da) neurons
Fundamental to its ability in forming neural circuits and processing information, each of the billions of neurons in the brain needs to establish and maintain a functional dendritic arbor. The research in the Han lab is focused on deciphering the secret of dendrite development and dendrite degeneration. By using cutting edge technologies in molecular biology, cell biology, microscopy, and genetics, we wish to uncover core principles of dendrite morphogenesis at molecular and cellular levels both during normal development and in neuronal degeneration.

Three Larvae

*Postdoc positions available. Send applications to


  • April 2018: Yineng finishes her undergraduate thesis research and returns to Shanghai Jiaotong University. See you soon!
  • April 2018: Yineng is admitted to the Cornell GGD graduate program. Congratulations!
  • March 2018: Yue Qiu finishes his undergraduate thesis research and returns to Shanghai Jiaotong University. Good luck with everything.
  • February 2018: Check our latest paper uploaded to BioRxiv: “Highly efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated tissue specific mutagenesis in Drosophila” by Poe, et al..
  • September 2017: Our paper “Dendritic space-filling requires a neuronal type-specific extracellular permissive signal in Drosophila” goes online at PNAS. Good job everyone!
  • August 2017: David Labib and Gabe Koreman join the lab for undergraduate research. Welcome!
  • July 2017: Yineng Xu and Yue Qiu from Zhiyuan College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University join the lab for undergraduate thesis research. Welcome!
  • June 2017: Kush Dubey and Anne Snabes join the lab for summer research. Welcome and have fun doing research!
  • May 2017: Hui Ji officially joins the lab. Welcome back, Hui!
  • May 2017: Kailyn Li graduated from Cornell with High Honors for her undergraduate thesis research. Nice job and congrats!
  • February 2017: Christine Zhang joins the lab for undergraduate research. Welcome!
  • August 2016: Welcome our newest undergraduate student, Andrew!
  • July 2016: Welcome Yue Qiu from Zhiyuan College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University to conduct summer research.
  • June 2016: Tireniolu Onabajo joins the lab. Welcome, Tire, and have fun with the flies.
  • May 2016: Congratulations to the graduates, Mary Gibbs and Yvonne Huang. We are proud of your achievements and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
  • May 2016: Congratulations to Hui Ji on completing your undergraduate thesis research. Thank you for your significant contributions to the lab.
  • February 2016: Congratulations to our visiting undergraduate student, Hui Ji, who’s just been offered admission to the Genomics, Genetics and Development program at Cornell University. We’re very proud of you, Hui!
  • January 2016: Welcome Yuzhao Hu from Tsinghua University for the winter research!
  • December 2015: Maria is accepted to the Cornell Colman Leadership Program 2016.
  • November 2014: Congratulations to Albert on receiving the Dextra Undergraduate Research Grant!
  • May 2014: Maria and Amy officially joined the crew for their graduate thesis research. Welcome Maria and Amy!
  • April 2014: Our lab manager/research associate Kathy Wang finally came on board. Welcome Kathy!
  • April 2014: The Leica SP8 confocal microscope is up and running. It’s time to rock and roll!
  • March 2014: Welcome Amy Poe (GGD), Maria Sapar (BMCB), and Jeff Jorgensen (BMCB) for the rotation!
  • February 2014: Diane Karasevicz joined the lab to take care of our fly stocks. Welcome Diane!
  • January 2014: Two undergraduate students bravely ventured into the Han lab for their undergraduate research. Welcome Yvonne Huang and Albert Zhang as our first lab members!

Chun Han, PhD

Chun Han, previously a postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UCSF, is the new Nancy M. and Samuel C. Fleming Assistant Professor in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Also the newest addition to the Weill Institute, Han studies neurons, and in particular, the parts that project out of the nerve cells to facilitate communication throughout the nervous system. Aptly named dendrites, they resemble trees, with branches that act as antenna to receive electrochemical signals from other neurons, usually via nerve fibers called axons. The structure of their branches vary, and most seem to differ depending on the function of the neuron and how they sense stimuli – a visual cue that comes in handy for Han. He is interested in how cells grow dendrites, how those dendrites maintain certain morphology over time, and how they remodel their structures.

Selected Publications

Poe AR, Tang L, Wang B, Li Y, Sapar ML, Han C. Dendritic space-filling requires a neuronal type-specific extracellular permissive signal in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Sep 5. pii: 201707467. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707467114.

Song Y, Sretavan D, Salegio EA, Berg J, Huang X, Cheng T, Xiong X, Meltzer S, Han C, Nguyen TT, Bresnahan JC, Beattie MS, Jan LY, Jan YN. Regulation of axon regeneration by the RNA repair and splicing pathway. Nat Neurosci., 2015 Jun;18(6):817-25. doi: 10.1038/nn.4019. Epub 2015 May 11.

Han C, Song Y, Xiao H, Wang D, Franc NC, Jan LY, Jan YN. Epidermal cells are the primary phagocytes in the fragmentation and clearance of degenerating dendrites in Drosophila. Neuron, 2014. 81(3): p. 544-60.

Han C, Wang D, Soba P, Zhu S, Lin X, Jan LY, Jan YN.  Integrins regulate repulsion-mediated dendritic patterning of drosophila sensory neurons by restricting dendrites in a 2D space. Neuron, 2012. 73(1): p. 64-78.

Han C, Jan LY, Jan YN. Enhancer-driven membrane markers for analysis of nonautonomous mechanisms reveal neuron-glia interactions in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2011. 108(23): p. 9673-8.

Han C, Yan D, Belenkaya TY, Lin X. Drosophila glypicans Dally and Dally-like shape the extracellular Wingless morphogen gradient in the wing disc. Development, 2005. 132(4): p. 667-79.

Han C, Belenkaya TY, Wang B, Lin X. Drosophila glypicans control the cell-to-cell movement of Hedgehog by a dynamin-independent process. Development, 2004. 131(3): p. 601-11.

Han C, Belenkaya TY, Khodoun M, Tauchi M, Lin X, Lin X. Distinct and collaborative roles of Drosophila EXT family proteins in morphogen signalling and gradient formation. Development, 2004. 131(7): p. 1563-75.

Belenkaya TY, Han C, Yan D, Opoka RJ, Khodoun M, Liu H, Lin X. Drosophila Dpp morphogen movement is independent of dynamin-mediated endocytosis but regulated by the glypican members of heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Cell, 2004. 119(2): p. 231-44.

Belenkaya TY, Han C, Standley HJ, Lin X, Houston DW, Heasman J, Lin X. pygopus Encodes a nuclear protein essential for wingless/Wnt signaling. Development, 2002. 129(17): p. 4089-101.

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