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Li Zhang
Professor-Biological Sciences
Office MailstopMail Box: FO31, Room No.: RL1748 
Email Address    Primary Phone Number 972-883-5757    Media Contact
 Professional Preparation
 PostdocMolecular Genetics & Molecular BiologyMIT1995
 Ph.D.BiochemistryUniversity of California, Los Angeles1990
 B.S.ChemistryZhongshan University, China1984
Collapse Section Expand Section Research and Expertise
Research Interests

Dr. Li Zhang has made major contributions to understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying heme signaling in eukaryotic cells. Heme is central to oxygen sensing and utilization in virtually all living organisms. In mammals, heme is critical for erythroid, hepatic, and neuronal functions. Oxygen sensing is directly related to many fundamental physiological and pathological processes, including angiogenesis, tumor development, and ischemia. Investigating the molecular mechanism of oxygen sensing and heme signaling is the main objective of Dr. Zhang2s lab. Furthermore, Dr. Zhang's lab is interested in investigating the molecular mechanisms by which common neurotoxicants act in neural cells, because studies of neurotoxicants should facilitate the understanding of many neural functions and neurological diseases. Dr. Zhang2s lab combines approaches of molecular and cellular biology with genomics and computational approaches to elucidate the global molecular mechanisms underlying cellular responses to environmental stressors, including hypoxia and environmental toxicants.

Dr. Zhang recently joined the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology as Professor and Head, coming from Columbia University, where she was professor of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Zhang also holds the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science.

Collapse Section Expand Section Publications
 1  2  
  YearPublication  Type
Kundaje A, Xin X, Lan C, Lianoglou S, Zhou M, Zhang L*, Leslie C*. 2008. A predictive model of the oxygen and heme regulatory network in yeast. PLoS Comput Biol 4: e1000224 PMID: 19008939
Category: PLoS Computational Biology
Peer reviewed
Mense SM, Sengupta A, Zhou M, Lan C, Bentsman G, Volsky DJ, Zhang L*. 2006. Gene expression profiling reveals the profound upregulation of hypoxia-responsive genes in primary human astrocytes. Physiol Genomics 25: 435-49 PMID: 16507782
Category: Physiological Genomics
Peer reviewed
Mense SM, Zhang L*. 2006. Heme: a versatile signaling molecule controlling the activities of diverse regulators ranging from transcription factors to MAP kinases. Cell Res 16: 681-92 PMID: 16894358
Category: Cell Research
Peer reviewed
Hon T, Lee HC, Hu Z, Iyer VR, Zhang L*. 2005. The Heme Activator Protein Hap1 Represses Transcription by a Heme-Independent Mechanism in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Genetics 169: 1343-52 PMID: 15654089
Category: Genetics
Peer reviewed
Hon T, Dodd A, Dirmeier R, Gorman N, Sinclair PR, Zhang L*, Poyton RO. 2003. A Mechanism of Oxygen Sensing in Yeast: Multiple Oxygen-Responsive Steps in the Heme Biosynthetic Pathway Affect Hap1 activity. J. Biol. Chem. 278: 50771-80 PMID: 14512429
Category: The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Peer reviewed
Collapse Section Expand Section Appointments
DurationRankDepartment / SchoolCollege / OfficeUniversity / Company
2007-PresentProfessor and HeadThe Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair of Systems Biology, The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics University of Texas at Dallas
2004-2004Associate ProfessorMailman School of Public Health Columbia University
2004-2007ProfessorMailman School of Public Health Columbia University
2001-2003Associate ProfessorSchool of Medicine New York University
1995-2000Assistant ProfessorSchool of Medicine New York University
1991-1995Postdoctoral Fellow/AssociateDepartment of Biology MIT
1986-1990Graduate Student ResearcherDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry University of California, Los Angeles
8/15/2007-7/31/2010Learning from graph-structured data: new algorithms for modeling physical interactions in cellular networks.  Current
06/01/02-5/31/09An oxygen sensing network involving heme and chaperones  Previous
 News Articles
Biologist’s Book Explores Role of Key Blood Component
UT Dallas News Center

Heme is the iron-containing molecule in hemoglobin that gives blood its deep red hue and binds to oxygen, allowing for its distribution throughout the body.
“The field has progressed significantly throughout the last decade,” Zhang said. “It’s something I’ve studied for years now, and I thought it was the right time to work on this project.”
Throughout her more than 15-year career, Zhang has made significant contributions to the field of molecular biology—particularly in the study of heme signaling and its role in tumor development, shortage of blood supply to tissues in the body and defective heme synthesis.

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 Additional Information
  • 1985-1986  P.R. China Fellowship;
  • 1985-1990  UCLA Non-resident Tuition Fellowship;
  • 1991-1993  The Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship for Medical Research;
  • 1999-2003  The Monique Weill-Caulier Medical Scholarship;
  • 2006  Top 1% of cited authors for journals in Molecular Biology and Genectics & Madison Who's Who;
  • 2007-          The Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair of Systems Biology

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