Yu Zhang, PhDAssistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
Yu Zhang, PhD, joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery in October 2010. Dr. Zhang received her PhD from Shanghai Medical University, China in 2000. She had postdoctoral training in Neuroapoptosis laboratory from 2000-2007 and was instructor of Neurosurgery from 2008-2010 in Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Zhang’s research interests include small RNA-related pathogenesis in neurodegenerative diseases, development of autologous cell-replacement therapy for Huntington’s disease, targeted delivery of thera-peutic nucleic acid to the central nervous system.
National certification commission for acupuncture and oriental medicine (NCCAOM)
Diplomate in Acupuncture
Professional Organization Membership
Society for Neuroscience
Yu Zhang’s work focused on the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the pathophysiology of Huntington’s disease (HD) in an effort to create a miRNA-based therapy for the HD. After profiling of disease affected brain region and functional screening of whole human miRNA library in inducible cells expression mutant HD, her group evaluated the function and targets of the individual miRNA hits in neuronal cell death. Using a nine D-arginine coupled rabies virus glycoprotein (RVG) coupled or non-coupled antimir/mimics of microRNA, they are currently working on crossing BBB delivery of small RNA to central nerves system through system administration in transgenic mouse models of HD.
In a parallel project, Dr. Zhang’s group has generated pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from somatic cells of HD patients and from transgenic mice. Moreover, they are combining gene manipulation with an autologous cell-replacement strategy to produce a novel therapy for HD.