Co-director of the Antibody Drug Discovery Lab, an academic drug discovery program in the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School at Houston

Dr. Zhang received her Ph.D. in plant biochemistry/molecular biology from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, in 1992. She had her postdoctoral training in protein biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Dr. Berne Jones laboratory with a focus of studying expression and characterization of proteinases.  Following her postdoctoral training, Dr. Zhang pursued a career in the pharmaceutical industry and worked on protein engineering and therapeutic antibody drug discovery research.  During her career in the biotechnology industry, Dr. Zhang led various research and drug discovery programs centered on target validation and discovery of monoclonal antibody candidates for preclinical and clinical development.  After a 15-year research career in the industry, Dr. Zhang was recruited as a Texas ETF (Emerging Technology Fund) Scholar and joined the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), in late 2010.  Since joining the UTHealth as a faculty member, Dr. Zhang has continued pursuing her interest in translational research with a focus on evaluation of new cancer targets and development of platform technologies for therapeutic antibody discovery at the academic setting.

In addition to the research projects, Dr. Zhang is Co-Director of the CPRIT Therapeutic Antibody Core. She manages collaborative projects and communicates with outside collaborators from many research institutions including University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Balor College of Medicine, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The Antibody Core currently has more than 10 active collaborative projects with a focus on discovery of therapeutic antibodies targeting various cancer types.  The core has out-licensed more than 5 novel antibodies for preclinical and clinical development.

Current Research Projects

  • Understand resistance mechanisms and cancer immune evasion of therapeutic antibody treatment.
  • Modulate anticancer immunity in the tumor microenvironment using antibody immunotherapy.
  • Develop antibody engineering technologies for ‘rational’ design of bi- and multi-specific targeting antibodies.

Team Members:

Research Scientist: Xuejun Fan, MD/PhD

Senior Research Associate: Deng, Hui, MS

Research Associate: Xin Li

Research Scientist: Wei Xiong, PhD