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Faculty Research Labs

Zhang Lab

The laboratory of Ji Zhang, PhD, uses biochemical, cellular and molecular biology and mouse genetic approaches to understand the fundamental mechanisms that underlie tumor cells' response to various metabolic stresses.

The Zhang Lab is located within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Biology research group at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

Active Research

acute leukemia cellsThree major research projects in Dr. Zhang's lab are:

1. Understand the mechanism of resistance
to L-asparaginase treatment in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

L- asparaginase is used to treat pediatric ALL patients. However, resistance can occur to compromise the therapeutic efficacy. The Zhang Lab is using cell culture, mouse ALL models and patient samples to understand the molecular mechanism that drives resistance to L-asparaginase treatment with the goal of identifying new therapeutic targets to enhance the efficacy of L- asparaginase.

2. Elucidate the interplay between oncogenic signaling and nutrient acquisition/utilization in lymphoid malignancies.

It is well-accepted that oncogenic signaling reprograms tumor cell metabolism to support growth and survival under nutrient limiting environment. However, whether nutrient availability can modulate oncogenic signaling as a means of metabolic adaptation has not been extensively explored. Using B cell lymphoma as a model, the Zhang Lab will explore the molecular connections as well as potential therapeutic implication.

3. Explore the role of nonessential amino acid metabolism in normal hematopoiesis.

Hematopoiesis in adult originates from bone marrow where nutrient and oxygen are thought to be limited. As a result, understanding the metabolic regulation of normal hematopoiesis has become an emerging topic recently. Using mouse genetic models with deficiency on specific metabolic pathways the Zhang lab will investigate the role of nonessential amino acid metabolism in hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and differentiation.

Research Funding

NIH 1R01 CA244625-01 (Zhang)
12/01/2019 - 11/31/2024
Title: Metabolic adaptation in lymphoid malignancies

NIH/NCI 1R01 CA173852-06 (Kapur PI / Zhang CO-I) 
07/01/2021 - 06/30/2026
Title: Role of p21 activated kinase in leukemogenesis


A full list of publications by Ji Zhang, PhD, are available on PubMed.

Faculty Research Team

38080-Zhang, Ji

Ji Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Read Bio Ji Zhang, PhD

Additional Research Team Members

Rodney Claude, PhD student

Sankalp Srivastava, PhD student

Minghua Zhong, Research Technician