Our Science

Rugang Zhang, Ph.D.

Rugang Zhang, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Gene Expression and Regulation Program
  • 215-495-6840, Office

The Zhang laboratory studies the mechanisms that underlie how normal mammalian cells age and how tumor cells evade the process and become transformed. In particular, his laboratory is interested in how alterations in epigenetics—heritable changes that affects gene expression without changes in the underlying DNA sequence—lead to the evasion of the aging process during tumor development. Understanding these mechanisms could lead to novel strategies for developing cancer therapeutics by forcing tumor cells into the aging process. His laboratory primarily focuses on ovarian cancer, which ranks first as the cause of death for gynecological cancers in the developed world.

Born and educated in China, Zhang received his Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2002. He did his post-doctoral training at the Institute for Cancer Research, Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he became an Assistant Professor in 2008. Zhang joined the Wistar Institute as an Associate Professor in 2012. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor at University of Pennsylvania.

Selected Publications

1 - Aird KM, Zhang G, Li H, Tu Z, Bitler BG, Garipov A, Wu H, Wei Z, Wagner SN, Herlyn M, Zhang R. Suppression of nucleotide metabolism underlies the establishment and maintenance of oncogene-induced senescence. Cell Reports, in press, 2013.

2 - Tu Z, Zhuang X, Yao Y, Zhang R. BRG1 is required for formation of senescence-associated heterochromatin foci (SAHF) induced by oncogenic RAS or BRCA1 loss. Mol Cell Biol, in press, 2013. PMID: 23438604

3 - Garipov A, Li H, Bitler BG, Thapa RJ, Balachandran S, Zhang R. NF-YA underlies EZH2 upregulation and is essential for proliferation of human epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Mol Cancer Res. Published online first January 29, 2013; doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0661 PMID: 23360797

4 - Rao S, Lee SY, Gutierrez A, Perrigoue J, Thapa RJ, Tu Z, Jeffers JR, Rhodes M, Anderson, S., Oravecz, T., Hunger, S.P., Timakhov, R.A., Zhang, R., Balachandran, S., Zambetti, G.P., Testa, J.R., Look, A.T. and Wiest, D.L. Inactivation of ribosomal protein L22 promotes transformation by induction of the stemness factor, Lin28B. Blood. 120: 3764-73, 2012. PMC3488889 PMID: 22976955

5 - Li H, Cai Q, Wu H, Vathipadiekal V, Dobbin ZC, Li T, Hua X, Landen CN, Birrer MJ, Sánchez-Beato M, Zhang R. SUZ12 promotes human epithelial ovarian cancer by suppressing apoptosis via silencing HRK. Mol Cancer Res. 2012 Nov;10(11):1462-72. Epub 2012 Sep 10. PMID: 22964433

6 - Li H, Bitler BG, Vathipadiekal V, Maradeo ME, Slifker M, Creasy CL, Tummino PJ, Cairns P, Birrer MJ, Zhang R. ALDH1A1 Is a Novel EZH2 Target Gene in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Identified by Genome-Wide Approaches. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Mar;5(3):484-91. Epub 2011 Dec 5. PMID: 22144423

7 - Tu Z, Aird KM, Bitler BG, Nicodemus JP, Beeharry N, Xia B, Yen TJ, Zhang R. Oncogenic RAS regulates BRIP1 expression to induce dissociation of BRCA1 from chromatin, inhibit DNA repair, and promote senescence. Dev Cell. 2011 Dec 13;21(6):1077-91. Epub 2011 Dec 1. PMID: 22137763

8 - Bitler BG, Nicodemus JP, Li H, Cai Q, Wu H, Hua X, Li T, Birrer MJ, Godwin AK, Cairns P, Zhang R. Wnt5a suppresses epithelial ovarian cancer by promoting cellular senescence. Cancer Res. 2011 Oct 1;71(19):6184-94. Epub 2011 Aug 4. PMID: 21816908

9 - Kennedy AL, Morton JP, Manoharan I, Nelson DM, Jamieson NB, Pawlikowski JS, McBryan T, Doyle B, McKay C, Oien KA, Enders GH, Zhang R, Sansom OJ, Adams PD. Activation of the PIK3CA/AKT pathway suppresses senescence induced by an activated RAS oncogene to promote tumorigenesis. Mol Cell. 2011 Apr 8;42(1):36-49. PMID: 21474066

10 - Li H, Cai Q, Godwin AK, Zhang R. Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 promotes the proliferation and invasion of epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Mol Cancer Res. 2010 Dec;8(12):1610-8. Epub 2010 Nov 29. PMID: 21115743