Phu Tran, PhD

Assistant Professor,Department of Pediatrics

E-MAIL[email protected]

Research Interests:

My primary research focuses on the effects of early-life iron deficiency on neural development. Iron deficiency is a major global health concern that affects conservatively 2 billion individuals worldwide, including about 30% of pregnant women and pre-school age children. It is well established that early-life iron deficiency has long lasting negative effects on cognition and socio-emotional behaviors in humans despite prompt iron treatment following diagnosis. These long-term effects constitute a significant cost to society in terms of educational attainment, job potential, and risk of mental health disorder. My lab investigates the cellular, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the long-term neurobehavioral effects of early-life iron deficiency in animal models. My secondary research interest focuses on investigating the biological role of a novel peptide (TMEM35a/NACHO), which has been recently discovered to function as an important chaperone for the assembly and trafficking of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. These ligand-gated cation channels/receptors play pivotal roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease, schizophrenia, autism, pain, and drug addiction.  Elucidating the regulation and the molecular function of TMEM35a/NACHO will lead to new understanding of mechanisms that underlies the regulation of neurocognition, pain and addictive behavior. We collaborate extensively with faculty across campus in the pursuit of these research areas.


  • Liu SX, Villacis Calderon DG, Maxim ZL, Beeson MM, Rao R, Tran PV. Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia alters brain-derived contactin-2-positive extracellular vesicles in the mouse plasma. Neuroscience. 2024 Mar 19;545:141-147. 
  • Liu SX, Ramakrishnan A, Shen L, Gewirtz JC, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Chromatin accessibility and H3K9me3 landscapes reveal long-term epigenetic effects of fetal-neonatal iron deficiency in rat hippocampus. BMC Genomics. 2024 Mar 21;25(1):301. 
  • Liu SX, Fredrickson TK, Calixto Mancipe N, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Sex-specific effects of early-life iron deficiency and prenatal choline treatment on adult rat hippocampal transcriptome. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 7;15(6):1316.
  • Singh G, Wallin DJ, Abrahante Lloréns JE, Tran PV, Feldman HA, Georgieff MK, Gisslen T. Dose- and sex-dependent effects of phlebotomy-induced anemia on the neonatal mouse hippocampal transcriptome. Pediatr Res. 2022 Sep;92(3):712-720.
  • Tran PV, Johns ME, McAdams B, Abrahante JE, Simone DA, Banik RK. Global transcriptome analysis of rat dorsal root ganglia to identify molecular pathways involved in incisional pain. Mol Pain. 2020 Jan-Dec;16:1744806920956480.
  • Bastian TW, Rao R, Tran PV, Georgieff MK. The effects of early-life iron deficiency on brain energy metabolism. Neurosci Insights. 2020 Jun 29;15:2633105520935104.
  • Marell PS, Blohowiak SE, Evans MD, Georgieff MK, Kling PJ, Tran PV. Cord blood-derived exosomal CNTN2 and BDNF: Potential molecular markers for brain health of neonates at risk for iron deficiency. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 16;11(10):2478.
  • Barks AK, Beeson MM, Matveeva T, Gale JJ, Rao R, Tran PV. Perinatal ischemia alters global expression of synaptosomal proteins critical for neural plasticity in the developing mouse brain. Dev Neurosci. 2019 Jun 17:1-13.
  • Tran PV. In vitro evidence for post-insult neuroprotective activity of an evolutionarily conserved motif against excitotoxic neuronal cell death. Neuroreport. 2019 Feb 6;30(3):213-216.


Picture of Phu Tran