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Faculty Profile

Yang ZhangYang Zhang

Professor of Pharmacology
Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences

University of Houston College of Pharmacy
Health 2, Room 5025
4349 Martin Luther King Boulevard
Houston, TX 77204-5037

Contact: - 713-743-7710


My major goal of research is to investigate the molecular and immunological mechanisms implicating in the initiation of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary artery diseases (macro- and micro-vascular dysfunction), and arterial stiffening/calcification. Currently, our research programs involve the characterization of the pathogenic roles of inflammasomes in vascular injury and fibrosis. These include how inflammasomes participate in the recruitment and activation of immune or inflammatory cells, what is the uncanonical role of inflammasomes in tissue injury and repair, and whether the inflammasome is involved in RNA receptor signaling in determining the susceptibility to degenerative vascular injury during repeated viral infections. Another research program is aimed to define the molecular mechanisms regulating lysosome-autophagy pathway associated with sphingolipids and redox signaling as well as the control of cell differentiation and dedifferentiation during atherogenesis and non-atherosclerotic vasculopathy such as arterial stiffening and arterial medial calcification. Our experimental approach combines different physiological, biochemical and molecular methodologies including high-speed wavelength switching fluorescence imaging, confocal microscopy, fluorescence resonance energy transfer, electron spin resonance spectrometry, in vivo ultrasound Doppler imaging, electron microscopy, ultrasound-microbubble in vivo plasmid delivery for local tissue-specific silencing and rescuing of knockout gene, ex vivo video microscopy of small artery, tissue-specific gene knockout mice, and surgical animal models.

  • Postdoc. in Molecular Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
  • Ph.D. in Pharmacology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA
  • B.S. in Applied Chemistry, Peking University, Beijing, China

Google Scholar Profile
  • Wang YT, Li X, Chen J, McConnel BK, Chen Li, Li PL, Chen Y, Zhang Y. Activation of TFEB prevents proliferation and migration of arterial smooth muscle cells and neointima formation in mice with high fat diet. Cell Death & Disease 2019; 10: 676. PMCID: PMC6742653
  • Wang YT, Chen J, Li X, Umetani M, Chen Y, Li PL, Zhang Y. Contribution of Transcription Factor EB to AdipoRon-induced Inhibition of Arterial Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation and Migration. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2019 317(5):C1034-C1047. PMID: 31483704.
  • Guan Y, Li X, Umetani M, Boini KM, Li PL, Zhang Y. Tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline inhibits autophagic flux and prevents tube formation in vascular endothelial cells. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2019;124:370-384. PMCID: PMC6226027
  • Zhang P, Guan Y, Chen, J, Li X, McConnell BK, Zhou W, Boini KM, Zhang Y. Contribution of p62/SQSTM1 to PDGF-BB-induced myofibroblast-like phenotypic transition in vascular smooth muscle cells lacking Smpd1 gene. Cell Death Dis. 2018; 9(12):1145. PMCID: PMC6242941
  • Chen Y, Wang L, Pitzer AL, Li X, Li PL, Zhang Y. Contribution of redox-dependent activation of endothelial Nlrp3 inflammasomes to hyperglycemia-induced endothelial dysfunction. J Mol Med 2016;94:1335-1347 PMCID:PMC5512566 (Highlighted in Editorial Commentary "Could licorice lick inflammasomes?". J Mol Med. 2016;94:1309-1311)
  • Xu M, Zhang Q, Li PL, Nguyen T, Li X, Zhang Y. Regulation of dynein-mediated autophagosomes trafficking by ASM in CASMCs. Frontiers in Biosci. 2016: 21(4): 696-706. PMCID:PMC4703364
  • Chen Y, Pitzer AL, Li X, Li PL, Wang L, Zhang Y. Instigation of Endothelial Nlrp3 Inflammasome by Adipokine Visfatin Promotes Interendothelial Junction Disruption: Role of HMGB1. J Cell Mol Med 2015; 17: 2715-2727. PMCID: PMC4687695
  • Zhang Y, Li X, Pitzer AL, Chen Y, Wang L, Li PL. Coronary Endothelial Dysfunction Induced by Nlrp3 Inflammasome Activation During Hypercholesterolemia: Beyond Inflammation. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2015; 22:1084-1096. PMC4403230
  • Zhang Y, Xu M, Xia M, Li X, Boini KM, Wang M, Gulbins E, Ratz PH, Li PL. Defective autophagosome trafficking contributes to impaired autophagic flux in coronary arterial myocytes lacking CD38 gene. Cardiovasc Res. 2014; 102:68-78. PMCID: PMC3958620
  • Li X, Xu M, Pitzer AL, Xia M, Boini KM, Li PL, Zhang Y. Control of Autophagy Maturation by Acid Sphingomyelinase in Mouse Coronary Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells: Protective Role in Atherosclerosis. J Mol Med 2014; 92: 473-485. PMCID: PMC4211081. (Highlighted in Editorial Commentary "Acid sphingomyelinase, autophagy, and atherosclerosis". J Mol Med. 2014; 92: 429-431)
  • Li PL, Zhang Y. Cross-talk between ceramide and redox signaling: implications for endothelial dysfunction and renal disease. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2013; 216: 171-197. PMCID: PMC3732373
  • Li, X, Gulbins E, Zhang Y. Role of kinase suppressor of ras-1 in lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2012; 30: 905-914. PMCID: PMC3758749
  • Li, X, Gulbins E, Zhang Y. Oxidative stress triggers Ca2+-dependent lysosome trafficking and activation of acid sphingomyelinase. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2012; 30: 815-826. PMCID: PMC3777434
  • Li X, Hong S, Li PL, Zhang Y. Docosahexanoic acid-induced coronary arterial dilation: Actions of 17S-hydroxy docosahexanoic acid on K+ channel activity. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011; 336: 891-899. PMCID:PMC3061543
  • Zhang Y, Li X, Carpinteiro A, Jeremy AG, Soddemann M, Gulbins E. Kinase suppressor of ras-1 protects against pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Nat Med. 2011; 17: 341-346.

Awards & Honors

  • NIH Atherosclerosis and Vascular Inflammation (AVI) study section review member 2021

  • NIH/NHLBI R35 ZHL1 CSR-I (O2) 1 study section review member 2020-2021

  • Guest Editor for forum topic “Role of Inflammasomes in Tissue Injury and Fibrosis” and Editorial Board member in Frontiers in Cell and Develop Biology, 2020

  • Symposium chair, ASPET, Experimental Biology meeting, Chicago, 2017

  • NIH R01 ZRG1 AARR M 03 study section review member 2017

  • Division of Cardiovascular Pharmacology Award Committee member, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), 2017

  • VA Merit Award Cardiovascular studies-B (CARB) Panel review member 2014-2017

  • AHA Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Panel review member 2015-2016

  • National Heart Lung Blood Institute Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Award 2014

  • Harry Goldblatt Award from AHA Council of Hypertension Finalist, 2014

  • Fellow of American Heart Association (FAHA) 2014

  • Endowment Award from Center for Clinical and Translational Research, 2013

  • American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship, 2004

  • Graduate Student Travel Award from ASPET, 2004

  • Graduate Student Travel Award from Medical College of Wisconsin, 2003