The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases

 Ningyan Zhang, Ph.D.

Ningyan Zhang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Texas Therapeutic Institute


Dr. Zhang joins the Texas Therapeutic Institute and The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) at UTHealth from Merck Research Laboratory where she was a research fellow.

Dr. Zhang received her Ph.D. in plant biochemistry/molecular biology from the University of Kentucky, Lexington. She conducted her postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Dr. Berne Jones laboratory studying the expression and characterization of proteinases during the brewing process. Following her postdoctoral training, Dr. Zhang pursued a career in the pharmaceutical industry with a focus on protein engineering and therapeutic antibody drug discovery research.

Research Interests

The proteolytic process mediated by proteinases including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, and cancer drug resistance. The molecular mechanisms underlining the complex roles of proteinases in cancer biology are currently poorly understood. Recent studies suggest that proteinases in tumor microenvironment may invade host immunosurveillance by cleavage of antibodies or shedding cell surface receptors to allow cancer cells to escape immune response. Dr. Zhang will study the interactions between proteinases and anti-tumor antibodies in the tumor microenvironment to delineate the roles of proteinses play in tumor resistance to antibody immune therapies.

Selected Publications

  • Aste-Amézaga M, Zhang, NY, et al. (2010) Characterization of Notch1 Antibodies that Inhibit Signaling of both Normal and Mutated Notch1 Receptors, Plos One 5:9094.
  • Li Y. Burns JA, Cheney C., Zhang NY, Bett AJ, Chastain A, Aste-Amezaga, AM, Huber H, Audoly LP and Zhang ZQ. (2010) Distinct expression profiles of Notch-1 protein in human solid tumors: implications for development of targeted therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Cancer Biology and Therapy, 4:1-9.
  • Zhang NY, Williams B, Lu P, An Z, and Chin C-N. (2009) Therapeutic antibodies in clinic use and leading clinical candidates. In: Therapeutic Antibodies: from Bench to Clinic, Z An ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ. pp 711-762.
  • Homann M, Suen WC, Zhang NY, Zaks A (2006) Comparative analysis of chemical and biocatalytic syntheses of drug intermediates. In: Biocatalysis in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries, RN Patel ed., Mercel Dekker, Inc., New York, pp647-661.
  • Suen WC, Zhang NY, Xiao L, Madison V, Zaks A (2004) Improved activity and thermostability of Candida artarctica lipase B by DNA family shuffling. Protein Engineering 17:1-8.
  •  Zhang NY, Suen WC, Windsor W, Xiao L, Madison V, Zaks A (2003) Improved thermostability of lipase B from Candida antarctica through directed evolution. Protein Engineering 16:599-605.
  • Zhang NY, Stewart BG, Moore JC, Greasham RL, Robinson DK, Buckland BC, Lee C (2000) Directed evolution of toluene dioxygenase from Pseudomonas putida for improved bioconversion of indene to cis-(1S,2R)-indandiol. Metabolic Engineering 2:339-348.
  • Zhang NY and Jones BL (1999) Purification and partial characterization of three barley aspartic endopeptidases that digest CM-proteins from barley. Cereal Chemistry 76:134-138.
  • Zhang NY and Jones BL (1996) Purification and characterization of a cysteine endopeptidase from germinated barley. Planta 199:565-572.