Research Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Zhao completed his medical training at Nanhua University and received his PhD in Toxicology at Fudan University Medical School in China in 2003. He then came to the University of Pittsburgh for post-doctoral training and in 2006, joined Dr. Sally Wenzel’s lab as a research associate conducting translational research on asthma. In 2010, Dr. Zhao became a faculty member in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and a faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute @UPMC/UPSOM.
Dr. Zhao’s research has been focused on the pathogenesis of severe asthma as it relates to the role of the 15-Lipoxygenase-1 (15LO1) signaling pathway. 15-Lipoxygenase 1 is one of several key enzymes involved in arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism. Using primary human airway epithelial cells as a model, Dr. Zhao’s research suggests that 15LO1 increases with severity of asthma and regulates MUC5AC gene expression. He was the first to show that 15LO1 interacts with Raf-1/PEBP1 to regulate MAPK/ERK signal pathway and amplify IL-4Rα signaling in human airway epithelial cells. These data suggest that the 15LO1 pathway could play a critical role in regulating gene expression which contributes to asthma pathogenesis. Dr. Zhao is particularly interested in the mechanism of 15LO1 expression in chronic Th2 background, the downstream effects of 15LO1 pathway activation on inflammatory gene expression and the key biologic activity of the 15LO1 enzyme products.
15LO1 is highly expressed and positively correlated with ERK phosphorylation in vivo in fresh asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells
|Confocal images of endobronchial tissue show high expression and co-localization of 15LO1 with PEBP1 (in yellow) in airway epithelium of a severe asthmatic as compared to normal control (area indicated with white arrows).|
Zhao J, O'Donnell VB, Balzar S, St Croix CM, Trudeau JB, Wenzel SE. 15-Lipoxygenase 1 interacts with phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein to regulate MAPK signaling in human airway epithelial cells. PNAS, 2011 Aug 23;108(34):14246-51.
Zhao J, Maskrey B, Balzar S, Chibana K, Mustovich A, Hu H, Trudeau JB, O'Donnell V, Wenzel SE. IL-13 induced MUC5AC is regulated by 15-Lipoxygenase (LO) 1 Pathway in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells. AJRCCM, 2009 May 1;179(9):782-90.
Zhao J, Harper R, Barchowsky A, Di YP. Identification of multiple MAPK-mediated transcription factors regulated by tobacco smoke in airway epithelial cells. AJP Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2007 Aug; 293(2):L480-90.