Jinying Zhao, MD, PhD
Director, Division of Genetic Epidemiology
Dr. Zhao is Dean’s Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine at the University of Florida. Hired as part of the University’s Preeminence Initiative, she is also Director of the Division of Genetic Epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of Medicine at UF. Dr. Zhao received her MD and first PhD in Molecular Genetics from Peking Union Medical College. She then received her second PhD in Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Dr. Zhao’s research focuses on genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics for human complex diseases. These two emerging fields are highly correlated but fundamentally different, with the former highlighting clinical or public health applications, whereas the latter focusing on methodology development for genetic studies. The long-term goals of her research are to identify novel ‘omics’ biomarkers (e.g., genomics, epigenomics, proteomics, metabolomics, microbiomics) for human chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, to unravel interactions among genes and between genes and environments, and to develop novel statistical and bioinformatics approaches to uncovering the complex genetic, epigenetic and metabolic pathways inherent in human complex disorders. Dr. Zhao serves as the Principal Investigator of several NIH-funded research projects:
- Telomere attrition and diabetes risk in American Indians
- Epigenetic determinants for major depression: a monozygotic discordant twin study
- Novel metabolic predictors of diabetes in American Indians
- Genome-wide profiling of brain DNA hydroxymethylome in Alzheimer’s disease
Prior to coming to the University of Florida, Dr. Zhao was a faculty member at Tulane University and Emory University. Dr. Zhao’s research excellence was recognized by several prestigious awards, e.g., the Elizabeth Barrett-Connor Research Award, the Roger R. Williams Award for Genetic Epidemiology, presented by the American Heart Association. Dr. Zhao has also been mentoring graduate students (MS, MPH, and PhD), clinical fellows and junior faculty.