Fei Du, PhD

Fei Du, PhD

McLean Hospital Title
  • Director, Laboratory for High-Field Imaging and Translational Neuroscience

Harvard Medical School Title
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry


The director of the Laboratory for High-Field Imaging and Translational Neuroscience and the Advanced MRI/MRS Core in the McLean Imaging Center (MIC), Dr. Fei Du is a neuroimaging biophysicist with a background in magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy (MRI/MRS). After training in the technical aspects of this field, he has begun to use his expertise in the service of neurobiological research on neuropsychiatric diseases. His research interests have evolved to combine MRI/MRS technique developments with translational imaging, from bench study to bedside. Toward this goal, his lab uses multimodal neuroimaging approaches, brain modulation, and translational animal models.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Du has established a network of collaborators for studies of psychiatric, drug use disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases using the state-of-art neuroimaging approaches, both within the MIC and with colleagues at other institutions. This work facilitates the translational applications of technical innovations in humans and in animal models. He has received several awards from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Harvard Brain Science Initiative, and NIH funds.

Research Focus:

Dr. Du combines MRI/MRS technical developments with translational neuroimaging. The goal is to outline the trajectories of biological abnormalities and identify treatment-engaged targets and biomarkers of disease progression and interventions response for neuropsychiatric disorders.

To date, a growing body of evidence suggests that a central “immuno-oxidative” pathway involving neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, and neurotransmission dysfunction plays a key role and contributes to distributed brain circuits in neuropsychiatric diseases. With this in mind, Dr. Du and his colleagues have been developing novel approaches to directly quantify in vivo glutamate, glutathione (GSH, antioxidant), and redox ratio of NAD+ and NADH in the same experimental session for investigating underlying neurobiological mechanisms associated with brain disorders. These methods have been used for schizophrenia (SZ) research. Through this project, Dr. Du and his fellow researchers aim to outline the trajectories of biological development in early phases of SZ and to identify a sensitive predictor for the prodrome and disease transition.

Dr. Du also investigates mild cognitive impairment (MCI)/Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases of aging, and a substantial burden on health care systems. Alterations in mitochondrial function and metabolism are antecedent to hallmark AD pathology. His lab has developed novel neuroimaging approaches to measure in vivo NAD+ and NADH as well as other markers of mitochondrial function, including creatine kinase/ATPase activity. In particular, the team aims to measure the effect of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a precursor of NAD+, on brain energy metabolism and cognitive functioning in subjects with MCI and AD, validate an NR-engaged molecular target, and explore imaging markers for monitoring treatment response.

In addition, Dr. Du’s research covers investigations into the relationship between neuronal circuits and excitatory/inhibitory balance. This work looks into the role of glutamatergic/GABAergic and dopamine functions in the discrete brain regions in psychotic and mood disorders. A major goal is to localize functional networks to guide neuromodulation targets for brain disorders and study chemical and functional changes after neuromodulations.

  • Ruiliang Bai, PhD, Zhejiang University, China
  • Justin T. Baker, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Brian P. Brennan, MD, MMSc, McLean Hospital
  • Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Wei Chen PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, Tufts Medicine
  • Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian PhD, Massachusetts Mental Health Center & Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Qiyong Gong, MD, PhD, Sichuan University and West China Hospital, China
  • Mei-Hua Hall, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Yuzheng Hu, PhD, Zhejiang University, China
  • Amel Karaa, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Rakesh Karmacharya, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Marc J. Kaufman, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Matcheri Keshavan, MD, Massachusetts Mental Health Center & Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Kathryn Eve Lewandowski, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Scott E. Lukas, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Gulin Oz, PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Itamar Ronen, PhD, Leiden University Medical Center
  • Isabelle M. Rosso, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Ann K. Shinn, MD, MPH, McLean Hospital
  • Jason Stockmann, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Michael Treadway, PhD, Emory University
  • Gordana D. Vitaliano, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, PhD, Northeastern University
  • Yihong Yang, PhD, National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Xiaoliang Zhang, PhD, University of Buffalo
  • Xiao-Hong Zhu PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Chun S. Zuo, PhD, McLean Hospital
Selected Publications:

Du F, Zhu XH, Zhang Y, Friedman M, Zhang N, Ugurbil K, Chen W. Tightly coupled brain activity and cerebral ATP metabolic rate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2008;105:6409-6414.

Du F, Cooper AJ, Thida T, Sehovic S, Lukas SE, Cohen BM, Zhang X, Öngür D. In Vivo evidence for cerebral bioenergetic abnormalities in schizophrenia measured using 31P magnetization transfer spectroscopy. JAMA Psychiatry 2014;71(1):19-27.

Chen X, Fan XF, Hu YZ, Zuo C, Whitfield-Gabrieli S, Holt D, Gong Q, Yang YH, Pizzagalli DA, Du F and Ongur D. Regional GABA concentrations modulate inter-network resting-state functional connectivity. Cerebral Cortex 2019;29(4):1607-1618.

PubMed search for Dr. Du

Education & Training

  • 1993 BS in Chemistry, Sichuan Normal College, China
  • 1996 MS in Chemical Physics, Jilin University, China
  • 2000 PhD in Biophysics/Magnetic Resonance, Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Science
  • 2000-2003 Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Phone: 617.855.2710
Office Address: Belmont campus - McLean Imaging Center, Room 151