Jerry (Zhenglun) Zhu, MD, PhD
Year elected: 2012
Current membership category: Active
Brigham and Women's Hospital
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115
United States of America
Dr. Zhu’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cell fate determination during early embryogenesis and its potential clinical applications. Recently, using a Xenopus embryogenesis model, Dr. Zhu’s group found that the canonical Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and the BMP4/Xom pathway converge on the common LEF/TCF transcriptional factors for their antagonizing effects on cell fate during early embryogenesis. The findings challenged the dogma of the Wnt/beta-catenin as the sole activation of the LEF/TCF mediated transcription and established a model of relative competition in cell fate determination during early embryogenesis. To translate this basic discovery into clinical relevance, Dr. Zhu’s group identified the homeobox protein VentX, a human homologue of the Xenopus Xom, as a novel antagonist of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and a putative tumor suppressor in hematological malignancies. Beyond defining the molecular basis of VentX as a novel tumor suppressor, Dr. Zhu’s group showed that VentX controls monocytes to macrophage development, and the demonstrated the altered expression of VentX in autoimmune-inflammatory conditions. To further exemplify the importance of basic research in embryogenesis and the critical role of translational research in advancement of medicine, current works from Dr. Zhu’s laboratory focus on the potential application of the principles learned from developmental studies in diagnosis and treatment of cancers, autoimmune inflammatory diseases and tissue regeneration.
Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women's Hospital (Primary)
Anna Greka, MD, PhD is the representative at this institution.