Du Laboratory

Structural Biology and Electrophysiology

The laboratory of Dr. Juan Du is focused on understanding the mechanism and pharmacology of excitatory neuronal receptors, which are critically involved in numerous neurological diseases. A combined approach of single particle cryo-EM, patch clamp electrophysiology and X-ray crystallography are employed to investigate the atomic structures and biological functions of these ion channel receptors.

Visit the Du and Lü labs joint website here.

Lab Funding

Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences
Sloan Research Fellowship
McKnight Scholar Award for Neuroscience
Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award
American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship (Dr. Zheng Ruan)

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  • 121 peer-reviewed papers published in 2023
  • 62 peer-reviewed papers published in high-impact journals in 2023
  • 55 clinical trials launched to date

Juan Du, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Structural Biology

Areas of Expertise

Structural biology, cryo-EM, synaptic receptors, ion channels


Dr. Juan Du earned her Diploma degree in chemistry from University of Goettingen and a Ph.D. from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Freiburg in Germany. While there, she determined the structure of a key enzyme required for gluconeogenesis and revealed new facets of the membrane transporter FocA. In 2012, she joined the Gouaux Lab at Oregon Health & Science University’s Vollum Institute, where her work focused on characterizing excitatory triheteromeric NMDA receptor as well as inhibitory glycine receptor using cryo-EM and electrophysiology. She is now an assistant professor in the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology at Van Andel Institute.

Honors and Awards

  • 2020 Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences
  • 2020 Sloan Research Fellow in Neuroscience
  • 2019 Klingenstein-Simons Award in the Neuroscience
  • 2019 McKnight Scholar Award for neuroscience
  • 2018 Van Andel Institute Employee Impact Fund
  • 2012 Arthur Lüttringhaus Prize
  • 2011 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad


*co-first author
# co-corresponding author

Hu J, Park SJ, Walter T, Orozco IJ, O’Dea G, Ye X, Du J#, Lü W#. 2024. Physiological temperature drives TRPM4 ligand recognition and gatingNature.

Müller C*, Zhang L*, Zipfel S, Topitsch A, Lutz M, Eckert J, Prasser B, Chami M, Lü W, Du J#, Einsle O#. 2022. Molecular interplay of an assembly machinery for nitrous oxide reductaseNature.

Ruan Z*, Haley E*, Orozco I*, Sabat M, Myers R, Roth R, Du J#, Lü W#. 2021. Structures of the TRPM5 channel elucidate mechanisms of activation and inhibitionNat Struct Mol Biol.

Yu J*, Zhu HT*, Lape R, Greiner T, Du J, Lü W, Sivilotti L#, Gouaux E#. 2021. Mechanism of gating and partial agonist action in the glycine receptorCell.

Ruan Z*, Osei-Owusu J*, Du J, Qiu Z#, Lü W#. 2020. Structures and pH-sensing mechanism of the proton-activated chloride channelNature.

Ruan Z, Orozco IJ, Du J#, Lü W#. 2020. Structures of human Pannexin 1 reveal ion pathways and mechanism of gating. Nature.

Huang Y, Fliegert R, Guse AH, Lü W#, Du J#. 2019. A structural overview of the ion channels of the TRPM familyCell Calcium.

Choi W*, Clemente N*, Sun W, Du J#, Lü W#. 2019. The structures and gating mechanism of human calcium homeostasis modulator 2Nature.

Haung Y, Roth B, Lü W#Du J#. 2019. Ligand recognition and gating mechanism through three ligand-binding sites of human TRPM2 channeleLife.

Haley E, Choi W, Fan C, Sun W, Du J, Lü W. 2019. Expression and purification of the human lipid-sensitive cation channel TRPC3 for structural determination by single-particle cryo-electron microscopyJ Vis Exp (143):e58754, doi:10.3791/58754.

Huang Y, Winkler PA, Sun W, Lü W#Du J#. 2018. Architecture of the TRPM2 channel and its activation mechanism by ADP-ribose and calciumNature.

Fan C*, Choi W*, Sun W, Du J#, Lü W#. 2018. Structure of the human lipid-gated cation channel TRPC3eLife:e36852.

Winkler PA*, Huang Y*, Sun W*, Du J, Lü W. 2017. Electron cryo-microscopy structure of a human TRPM4 channelNature.

Lü W*, Du J*, Goehring A, Gouaux E. 2017. Cryo-EM structures of the triheteromeric NMDA receptor and its allosteric modulationScience 355.

Du J*, Lü W*,Wu S, Cheng Y, Gouaux E. 2015. Glycine receptor mechanism elucidated by electron cryo-microscopyNature 526(7572):224–229.

Lee CH, Lü W, Michel JC, Goehring A, Du J, Song X, Gouaux E. 2014. Structures of NMDA receptor reveal subunit arrangement and pore architectureNature 511(7508):191–197.

Lü W, Du J, Schwarzer N, Wacker T, Andrade SLA, Einsle O. 2013. The formate/nitrite transporter family of anion channelsBiol Chem 394(6):715–727.

Lü W, Schwarzer N, Du J, Gerbig-Smentek E, Andrade SLA, Einsle O. 2012. Structural and functional characterization of the nitrite channel NirC from Salmonella typhimuriumProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(45):18395–18400.

Lü W, Du J, Schwarzer N, Gerbig-Smentek E, Einsle O, Andrade SLA. 2012. The FNT family channel FocA exports the products of mixed-acid fermentationProc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(33):13254–13259.

Du J*, Say R*, Lu Ẅ, Fuchs G, Einsle O. 2011. Active site remodeling in the bifunctional fructose–1,6–bisphosphate aldolase/phosphataseNature 478(7370):534–537.

Lü W, Du J, Wacker T, Gerbig-Smentek E, Andrade SLA, Einsle O. 2011. Mechanism of gating in the formate channel FocA from Salmonella typhimuriumScience 332:352–354.

Lü W, Du J, Stahl M, Tzivelekidis T, Belyi Y, Gerhardt S, Aktories K, Einsle O. 2010. Structural basis of the action of glucosyltransferase Lgt1 from Legionella pneumophilaJ Mol Biol 396(2):321–331.

Zhiyong Bai, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Department of Structural Biology

Nancy Duchaine

Senior Administrative Assistant I, Department of Structural Biology

Nicole Marcia Horne

Assistant Research Technician, Department of Structural Biology

Jinhong Hu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Lü Laboratory

Mentor: Wei Lü, Ph.D.

Sarah Keuning

Assistant Research Technician, Department of Structural Biology

Sushant Kumar, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Department of Structural Biology

Mentor: Juan Du, Ph.D.

Junuk Lee

Senior Research Scientist, Department of Structural Biology

Sofia Ievleva

Ph.D. Candidate, VAI Graduate School

Thesis project title to be determined

Mentor: Juan Du, Ph.D.

Richard Massimino

Assistant Research Technician, Department of Structural Biology

Garrett O’Dea

Assistant Research Technician, Department of Structural Biology

Yuan Zeng, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Du Laboratory

Mentor: Juan Du, Ph.D.