University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Dr. Ningyan Zhang joined the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in late 2010 after more than 15 years in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry mostly recently at Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. Zhang was trained as a protein biochemist and received her Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively. During her tenure in the biotechnology industry, she led various research programs at different stages of drug discovery and development, ranging from drug target validation to screening and lead selection for drug development.
Dr. Zhang’s current research interest is centered on resistant mechanisms to cancer therapeutic antibodies targeting the EGFR family of receptors. The human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family consists of four closely related type 1 transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptors (EGFR/HER1, HER2, HER3 and HER4). Both EGFR and HER2 are proven oncogenes and have been successfully targeted by monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of various cancers including non-small cell lung, colon and breast cancers. Even through the therapeutic antibodies have shown clinical benefits, wide spread resistance to the targeted therapies poses significant challenges in the clinic. By using a wide array of experimental approaches including 2D and 3D cell cultures, mouse tumor models, and clinical samples from cancer patients, Dr. Zhang’s research projects focus on study of resistant mechanisms to understand roles of the cross talk between tumor microenvironment and cancer cells in the development of resistance to cancer therapeutic antibodies.