Yan Qin photo

Yan Qin

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

Explore the function of zinc in the brain.

Professional Biography

2000 B.S., Biology- Nanjing University- China
2002 M.S., Physiology- Nanjing University- China
2008 Ph.D., Neuroscience- Ohio University- Athens, Ohio
2009-2015, Postdoctoral research associate, Bio-imaging, University of Colorado at Boulder- Boulder, CO


  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Ohio University, 2008
  • MS, Physiology, Nanjing University, 2002
  • BS, Biology, Nanjing University, 2000

Professional Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society

Job History

  • 2009-2015, Postdoctoral research associate, Bio-imaging, University of Colorado at Boulder- Boulder, CO


Zinc is an essential nutrient for biological function and human health. A pool of free zinc is concentrated in synaptic vesicles in glutamatergic neurons and co-released with glutamate during neuronal activity. The synaptically released zinc has been suggested to act a signaling molecule to communicate between cells and modulate various synaptic targets (receptors and ion channels) and synaptic plasticity, which would further modulate brain function. Zinc imbalance and dysregulation have been correlated with a number of human diseases. Currently, our understanding of zinc in neuronal signaling and neurodegeneration is limited by the lack of appropriate tools to specifically track the dynamics of zinc in living neurons, tissues and organisms. Therefore, the major objectives of my lab are to generate imaging systems to monitor zinc dynamics in living cells and organisms with high spatio-temporal fidelity, and to utilize these novel systems to investigate the biological functions of zinc. Our approach spans basic biophysical and biochemical technologies to molecular neuroscience techniques. We also incorporate considerable use of advanced microscope imaging and large imaging dataset analysis strategies in our research. We will investigate the physiological and pathological roles of zinc in hippocampal neurons.

Featured Publications

Fudge, D. H., Black, R., Son, L., LeJeune, K., & Qin, Y. (2018). Optical Recording of Zn2+ Dynamics in the Mitochondrial Matrix and Intermembrane Space with the GZnP2 Sensor. ACS Chemical Biology.
Qin, Y., Gee, K. R., Jin, Q., Lai, B., Qian, C., & Colvin, R. A. (2017). Current Methods Used to Probe and Quantify Intracellular Total and Free Zn(II) Dynamics, and Subcellular Distribution in Cultured Neurons. In Metals in the Brain: Measurement and Imaging (pp. 195-224).
Fiedler, B. L., Van Buskirk, S., Carter, K. P., Qin, Y., Carpenter, M. C., Palmer, A. E., & Jimenez, R. (2016). Droplet microfluidic flow cytometer for sorting on transient cellular responses of genetically-encoded sensors. Analytical chemistry.


Qin, Y. (2018). Optically Recording of Zinc Dynamics with GZnP Sensors. FASEB: Trace Element in Biology and Medicine. Tahoe City, California: FASEB.