Zheng Jenny Zhang
- Research Professor of Surgery
- Director, Comprehensive Transplant Center Microsurgery Core
The Zhang lab creates small animal transplant and inflammation models to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms of ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), allotransplant rejection, and transplant-associated reactivation of cytomegalovirus (CMV), as well as to develop therapeutic strategies for immune regulation and tolerance induction. We hypothesize that transplant IRI activates innate immune pathways and endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling pathways that lead to exacerbated allograft rejection and CMV reactivation from latency. Targeting IRI through tissue/cell-specific inhibition of these pathways may ameliorate allograft rejection, promote transplant tolerance, and reduce the risk of CMV.
In addition, we hypothesize that targeting regulatory T cells (Tregs) to the site of inflammation such as IRI and allograft rejection will significantly enhance immune-regulatory function and facilitate tolerance induction. We are interested in developing cell therapies and nanotechnology-based strategies for cell-specific and site-specific targeting of molecular pathways. In one project, we are investigating whether nanofiber-coated Tregs can directly target regions of inflammation to improve outcomes after solid organ transplantation (heart and kidney transplants) or vascularized composite allotransplantation.
Areas of Interest
Transplant Rejection, Regeneration, Innate Immunity, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Transplant Tolerance