Jung Hwa (Susan) Cheng, Ph.D.

Headshot of Susan Cheng
Core Director and Staff Scientist
Electron Microscopy Core Facility

BG 49 RM 3A50

Dr. Cheng received her B.S. from the Zoology Department of National Taiwan University in 1973 and her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1978, where she studied the activity-dependent structural changes of a mechano-receptor at the electron microscopy level under the guidance of Dr. Yasuko Nakajima. She then did her postdoctoral research with Dr. Jack Rosenbluth at the New York University Medical School focusing on the development and disease-related structural changes of the node of Ranvier in mammalian central and peripheral nervous systems by EM. In 1984, she joined NINDS as a Fellow in Dr. Milton Brightman’s lab to study the in vitro interactions between brain endothelial cells and astrocytes, the two major components that form the blood-brain-barrier in vivo. In 1989, she became the Manager of the NINDS EM Facility. Dr. Cheng specializes in the pre-embedding immunogold labeling studies of various experimental systems, especially the ultrastructural details of synapses in dissociated and organotypic neuronal cultures, acute brain slices and perfusion-fixed brains.

The EM Facility provides intramural NINDS investigators with the opportunity to use electron microscopic techniques in their research programs. The Facility assists in all aspects of electron microscopy including project planning, specimen preparation and training.

  • Assessment on whether EM is appropriate and feasible for user’s project
  • Suggestion on optimal fixation methods
  • Explanation on tissue processing time frame and what to expect
  • Training users in using the TEM
  • Assistance in interpretation of EM images
Images of dissociated cell cultures
The Facility has extensive experience in processing nervous tissues and also assists users in carrying out pre-embedding immunogold labeling.


Virginia Tanner Crocker, Biologist

Sandra Lara Morreira, Biologist

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Crocker, V., Moreira, S., Azzam, R. Optimization of protocols for pre-embedding immunogold labeling of neurons in dissociated cell cultures and brains. Molecular Brain, 14:86, 2021.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H.  Stimulation-induced redistribution of clathrin in axon vs. dendrite of hippocampal neurons. Molecular Brain, 13:141, 2020.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H. Activity-dependent redistribution of CaMKII in the postsynaptic compartment of hippocampal neurons Molecular Brain, 13: 53, 2020.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H. Immunogold labeling of synaptic vesicle proteins in developing hippocampal neurons. Molecular Brain, 13: 9, 2020. 

Tao-Cheng, J.-H. Stimulation induces gradual increases on the thickness and curvature of postsynaptic density of hippocampal CA1 neurons in slice cultures. Molecular Brain, 12 :44, 2019.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H. Stimulation-dependent structural changes in nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in hippocampal neurons. Molecular Brain, 11:44, 2018.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H. Activity-dependent decrease of contact area between 
subsurface cisterns and plasma membrane in hippocampal neurons. 
Molecular Brain, 11:23, 2018 

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Toy, D., Winters, C. A., Reese, T. S. and Dosemeci, A.  Zinc stabilizes Shank3 at the postsynaptic density of hippocampal synapses.  PLOS ONE 11: e0153979, 2016.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Azzam, R., Crocker, V. T., Winters, C. A. and Reese, T. S.  Depolarization of hippocampal neurons induces formation of nonsynaptic NMDA receptor islands that resemble nascent postsynaptic density.  eNeuro 2:0066-15, 2015.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Yang, Y., Reese, T. S. and Dosemeci, A.  Differential distribution of Shank and GKAP at postsynaptic density.  PLOS ONE  10:e0118750, 2015.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H.,  Pham, A., Yang, Y., Winters, C. A., Gallant, P. E. and Reese, T. S.  Syntaxin 4 is concentrated on plasma membrane of astrocytes.  Neuroscience 286: 264-271, 2015.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Thein, S., Yang, Y. Reese, T. S. and Gallant, P. E. Homer is concentrated at the postsynaptic density and does not redistribution after acute synaptic stimulation.  Neuroscience 266:80-90, 2014.

Tao-Cheng, J.-H., Yang, Y., Bayer, K. U., Reese, T. S. and Dosemeci, A. Effects of CaMKII Inhibitor tatCN21 on Activity-Dependent Redistribution of CaMKII in Hippocampal Neurons.  Neuroscience 244:188-196, 2013.

Tao-Cheng J.-H. Activity-Induced Fine Structural Changes of Synapses in Mammalian Central Nervous System. In “Structure and Function of the Synapse”, Eds. V. Pickel and M. Segal, Neuroscience-net, 2012.