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Principal Investigators

Faculty and Staff

Principal Investigators
Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Development

Research Interests or Current Research Focus
Skin stem cells are the basis for the development / homeostasis / wounding healing of the skin. Deregulation in skin stem cell functions are closely linked with the initiation and progression of various skin diseases and conditions, such as alopecia, chronic wounds and skin cancers. Our lab is interested in: (1) elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing the fate regulation and malignant transformation of skin stem cells; (2) developing stem cell based therapies / technique for the treatment of skin diseases and chronic wounds.

Major Research Achievement
(1) Uncovered the regulatory role of microRNA(miRNA) effector complex protein AIN-1/2 in the fate regulation of C.elegans hypodermis; developed a biochemical method for systematic identification of miRNA targets in animal tissue (Molecular Cell 2007, Development 2009). (2) Discovered a distinct miRNA expression signature of mammalian skin epithelial stem cells (SCs) in comparison with their committed progenies; discovered miR-125b as a “stemness” miRNA that is strongly enriched in skin hair follicle bulge SCs and functions to regulate their lineage commitment (Cell Stem Cell 2011). (3) Discovered miR-125b as a potential oncogene that can confer oncomiR addiction by promoting “stemness” in skin squamous cell carcinoma cancer stem cells (Genes & Development 2014). (4) Develop a novel method for high-throughput and strand-specific miRNA functional screen; discovered miR-21 passenger strand (miR-21*) as an oncomiR involved in malignant transformation of skin epithelial SCs(Nature Cell Biology 2016).

Ph.D. (08/2008), Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.
B.S. (07/2001), College of Life Sciences, Beijing University, Beijing, China

Major Academic Appointments
2014-present: Principle Investigator, Joint Center for Translational Research (Institute of Health Sciences - Changzheng Hospital), Institutes for Translational Research(CAS-SMMU), Shanghai, China
2008-2014: Research Associate, Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology & Development, HHMI and the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.

Honors, Certificates, and Academic Society
2012: Kimberly Lawrence-Netter Cancer Research Discovery Fund Award
2015: 100-Talent Plan, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2016: Recipient of the Recruitment Program of Global Experts (Young Program)

Recent Publications

  1. Ge, YJ.*, Zhang, L.*, Nikolova, M., Reva B., and Fuchs, E. Strand-specific in vivo screen of 169 cancer-associated miRs unveils key drivers and oncogenic targets. Nature Cell Biology 2016 Jan;18(1):111-21. doi: 10.1038/ncb3275. Epub 2015 Nov 30 *co-first authors
  2. Zhang, L., Ge, YJ., and Fuchs, E. miR-125b can enhance skin tumor initiation and promote malignant progression by repressing differentiation and prolonging cell survival. Genes & Development 2014 Nov 15;28(22):2532-46. (Cover Story)
  3. Kudlow, BA, Zhang, L., and Han, M. Systematic Analysis of Tissue-Restricted miRISCs Reveals a Broad Role for microRNAs in Suppressing Basal Activity of the C. elegans Pathogen Response. Molecular Cell 2012 May 25;46(4):530-41.
  4. Zhang, L., Stokes, N., Polak, L., and Fuchs, E. Specific MicroRNAs Are Preferentially Expressed by Skin Stem Cells To Balance Self-Renewal and Early Lineage Commitment. Cell Stem Cell 2011 Mar 4;8(3):294-308. (Cover Story)
  5. Zhang, L., Hammell M, Kudlow BA, Ambros V, Han M. Systematic analysis of dynamic miRNA-target interactions during C. elegans development. Development 2009 Sep;136(18):3043-55
  6. Hammell, M., Long, D., Zhang, L., Lee, A., Carmack, C. S., Han, M., Ding, Y., and Ambros, V. mirWIP: microRNA target prediction based on microRNA-containing ribonucleoprotein-enriched transcripts. Nature Methods. 2008 Sep;5(9):813-9
  7. Zhang, L.*, Ding L*, Cheung TH, Dong MQ, Chen J, Sewell AK, Liu X, Yates JR 3rd, Han M. “Systematic Identification of C. elegans miRISC Proteins, miRNAs, and mRNA Targets by Their Interactions with GW182 Proteins AIN-1 and AIN-2”. Molecular Cell. 2007 Nov 30;28(4):598-613. *co-first authors
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