Ren Zhang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

3319 Scott Hall
540 East Canfield
Detroit, MI 48201
Voice: 313-577-0027
FAX: 313-577-5218


Assistant Professor (also with Endocrinology); Ph.D., UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2005; Obesity and diabetes; the leptin signaling pathway and mechanisms of leptin resistance; molecular evolution and comparative genomics.

Research Interests

The metabolic syndrome, a common disorder including glucose intolerance and dyslipidemia, poses a major public health issue. Patients with high blood lipids, such as triglycerides, are at high risk in developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. We recently identified a novel blood lipid regulator, lipasin, which is a liver-enriched nutritionally-regulated circulating factor that regulates triglyceride metabolism by inhibiting lipoprotein lipase activity. Lipasin is later known as betatrophin, which potently stimulates pancreatic beta-cell proliferation. We are characterizing lipasin/betatrophin functions by genomic and genetic approaches. Students in the lab will be exposed to techniques of molecular biology, cell culture and mouse genetics.

 Selected Publications

Fu Z, Berhane F, Fite A, Seyoum B, Abou-Samra AB and Zhang R, Elevated circulating lipasin/betatrophin in human type 2 diabetes and obesity, Sci Rep. 2014, in press.

Zhang R, Abou-Samra AB, Review: Emerging roles of Lipasin as a critical lipid regulator, Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013, 432, 401-5.

Fu, Z, Yao, F, Abou-Samra, AB and Zhang, R, Lipasin, thermoregulated in brown fat, is a novel but atypical member of the angiopoietin-like protein family. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 2012, 430, 1126-31.

Zhang, R., Yao, F, Gao, F and Abou-Samra, AB, Nrac, a novel nutritionally-regulated adipose and cardiac-enriched gene. PLoS ONE, 2012, 7: e46254.

Zhang, R., Lipasin, a novel nutritionally-regulated liver-enriched factor that regulates serum triglyceride levels. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 2012, 424: 786-792.

Lin, Y. and Zhang, R. (2011) Putative essential and core-essential genes in Mycoplasma genomes. Sci. Rep. 1, 53.

Gao, F. and Zhang, R. Enzymes are enriched in bacterial essential genes. PLoS ONE, 2011, 6: e21683.

Zhang, R., Maratos-Flier, E., and Flier, J.S., Reduced adiposity and high-fat diet-induced adipose inflammation in mice deficient for phosphodiesterase 4B. Endocrinology, 2009, 150: 3076-82.

Zhang, R., Dhillon, H., Yin, H., Yoshimura, A., Lowell, B.B., Maratos-Flier, E., and Flier, J.S., Selective inactivation of Socs3 in SF1 neurons improves glucose homeostasis without affecting body weight. Endocrinology, 2008, 149: 5654-61.

Zhang, R., Murakami, S., Coustry, F., Wang, Y., and de Crombrugghe, B., Constitutive activation of MKK6 in chondrocytes of transgenic mice inhibits proliferation and delays endochondral bone formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 2006, 103: 365-70.

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