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, Abou-Samra AB and Zhang R, An explanation for recent discrepancies in human circulating betatrophin, Diabetologia, 2014, in press.

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, 4, 5013.

Zhang, R., Ou HY, Gao, F and Luo H. (2014) Review: Identification of Horizontally-transferred Genomic Islands and Genome Segmentation Points by Using the GC Profile Method. Current Genomics, 15: 113-121.

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. and Lin, Y., DEG 5.0, a database of essential genes in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Nucleic Acids Res, 2009, 37: D455-8.

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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