Mariah Wu

Ph.D. 2020

E-MAIL: [email protected]

PhD Thesis:

Modulation of the endocannabinoid system by HIV Tat protein

Current Position: 

Senior Clinical Evidence Specialist at Medtronic

Graduate Advisor

Stanley Thayer, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology

Description of Graduate Research:

The Thayer lab is focused on delineating the molecular mechanisms underlying HIV neurotoxicity, and studying the role of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system as a modulator of disease processes. My project is examining how HIV viral proteins affect the eCB system. Changes in eCB signaling may impair the neuroprotective capability of the eCB system to combat synaptodendritic damage that is thought to underlie the neurocognitive deficits seen in nearly half of all HIV-positive individuals. I employ a combination of whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology and live-cell optical imaging techniques in primary hippocampal neurons.

Graduate Publications:

  • Wu MM, Thayer SA. HIV Tat protein impairs CB1 receptor-mediated presynaptic inhibition at excitatory but not inhibitory synapses. eNeuro. 2020 May 29. pii: ENEURO.0119-20.2020.
  • Wu MM, Zhang X, Asher MJ, Thayer SA. Druggable targets of the endocannabinoid system: implications for the treatment of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder. Brain Res. 2019 Sep 17:146467.
  • Green MV, Raybuck JD, Zhang X, Wu MM, Thayer SA. Scaling synapses in the presence of HIV. Neurochem Res. 2019 Jan;44(1):234-246.

Graduate Abstracts:

  • Wu MM, Thayer SA. HIV Tat impairs CB1 receptor-mediated presynaptic inhibition at excitatory synapses. Poster presentation at the Gordon Conference on Cannabinoid Function in the CNS. Castelldefels, Spain; July 2019.
  • Wu MM, Thayer SA. HIV Tat impairs endocannabinoid signaling at excitatory synapses. Poster presentation at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. San Diego, California; November 2018.
  • Wu MM, Thayer SA. HIV Tat impairs endocannabinoid signaling. Poster presentation at the 24th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology. Chicago, Illinois; April 2018.

Graduate Awards and Honors:

  • 2019 Stark Travel Award
  • 2018 1st place winner at the annual PharmacoNeuroImmunology retreat poster competition
  • 2018 2nd place winner at the 3rd annual Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Day poster competition
  • 2016 T32 DA007097 NIDA PharmacoNeuroImmunology training fellowship
  • 2015 T32 GM8471-23 Neuroscience training fellowship

Graduate Program Committees:

  • Marketing and Recruitment Committee 2018-2020

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology

Thesis Committee Members


Research Categories

  • Neurodegenerative Diseases & Neural Injury
  • Synaptic Plasticity & Learning