Current students

Yu Tzu (Rita) Chen

Education:  B.S. Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014

Hometown:  Taichung, Taiwan

Thesis adviser: Jose Eltit, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Research interests:  I’m currently interested in how psychostimulants affect neurons and non-neuronal cells, e.g. astrocytes and adrenal chromaffin cells, and how these cellular and electrophysiological changes contribute to the pathologies associated with drug abuse and addictions.

Personal bio:  I grew up in the sunny, subtropical city of Taichung in Taiwan. I love insects since childhood, and once wished to pursue a degree in entomology, although things happened throughout my undergraduate years sparked my interests in neuroscience and neuropharmacology: after being mind-blown from reading about research on psychedelic drugs, and seeing people suffering from drug addictions, I made my mind to devote my scientific skills to understand the mechanisms of drug abuse and potential treatment strategies. Before coming to VCU, I worked as a lab technician with Drs. Ning Zhou and Dongchuan Wu at China Medical University, Taiwan, where I was trained with brain slice electrophysiology. Combined with the calcium imaging technique I’m learning in the Eltit Lab, I enjoy how these techniques enable us to see the real-time actions of neurotransmission and “gliotransmission”.


Wu DC, Chen RY, Cheng TC, et al. Spreading Depression Promotes Astrocytic Calcium Oscillations and Enhances Gliotransmission to Hippocampal Neurons. Cereb Cortex. 2017:1-13.

Shen ML, Wang CH, Chen RY, Zhou N, Kao ST, Wu DC. Luteolin inhibits GABAA receptors in HEK cells and brain slices. Sci Rep. 2016;6:27695.

« Back to current students