Contact Information
Phone: 319-335-6832
4219 Medical Education Research Facility

The Zhang laboratory has long-standing interest in breast cancer-related basic and translational research. The lab has been expanding on several new projects critically addressing current clinical complications in breast-cancer progression, prevention and therapy. The lab has been working on both cancer-cell intrinsic signaling pathways and tumor microenvironment (TME), with special focuses on: 1) how immune system controls or promotes breast cancer under comorbid conditions such as obesity and diabetes etc.; 2) the identification of novel molecules and signaling pathways involved in breast-cancer progression and metastasis. The first project defined a unique interaction between obesity and breast-cancer progression by stimulating cancer-infiltrating macrophages, and the subsequent inflammasome/interleukin-1beta activation (Publications 5 and 7, funded by a V Scholar Grant from V Foundation for Cancer Research and a R01 Grant from NIH). We continue to understand how inflammasome is activated under obesity and how interleukin-1beta passes obesity-specific signals to neoangiogenesis in cancer. Our research in the 2nd project defines two different populations of cell-of-origins for HER2-induced breast cancer, from both luminal and basal mammary epithelial cells (Publication 2). We identified a novel tumor suppressor CD177 that is expressed on surface of both lineages and inhibits tumorigenesis and relapse (Publication 3, funded by a R01 Grant from NIH). We further found that these two layers of mammary epithelial cells regulate each other by initiating a paracrine none canonical Wnt5A signaling that provides inhibitory signal to basal cells under the context of tumor initiation (Publication 4). We have built strong expertise in the field of breast cancer, inflammation and cancer immunology.

In addition, the lab has several novel projects that are under development: 1) Determining the heterogeneity of cancer-infiltrating regulatory T cells using single cell RNA sequencing; 2) Developing a small molecular inhibitor for mismatch repair pathway to treat basal-like breast cancer; 3) Using bioinformatics to define heterogeneity of cancer-infiltrating immune cells from single cells RNA sequencing datasets.

See complete list at [PubMed]

Zhang Lab

Left to right: Visiting student: Yinan Zhang; Postdoc: Kawther Ahmed; Technician: Wei Li; FRRB graduate student: Paige Kluz; Cancer Biology graduate student: Ajaykumar Vishwakarma; Pathology graduate student: Sung Jo; Postdoc: Ryan Kolb; PI: Weizhou Zhang; Cancer Biology graduate student: Nicholas Borcherding; Surgical fellow: Edward Cho; Postdoc: Gaurav Pandey