Molecular Mechanisms of Metabolic Diseases

We combine forward genetics with biochemistry and molecular biology

In the Zhang Lab, we seek to find new "rules" through studying "exceptions"

Our investigation began with a search for mutations that cause metabolic disorders in mice, using the largest mouse forward genetic screen platform developed in the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense. We have screened more than half of the mouse genome, and now study the role of these genes in various metabolic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Meet the PI

Zhao Zhang, Ph.D.

Zhao Zhang, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Zhang obtained his B.S. in biotechnology from Shandong University in 2008. He received his Ph.D. in developmental biology in 2014 from the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, under the direction of Dr. Yun Zhao. He then joined the lab of Dr. Bruce Beutler at UT Southwestern for his post-doctoral training.

In 2020, Dr. Zhang became an Assistant Professor in the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern with support from an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00).

Recent Lab News


October 2022

Defect in gene caused massive obesity in mice despite normal food intake

The third paper came out of the Zhang Lab published on Cell Metabolism to identify a form of obesity caused not by hyperphagia or hypokinesis but by decreased thermal energy expenditure due to a viable hypomorphic allele of the essential gene Ovol2. Ovol2 may eventually become target for anti-obesity drugs.

This research has been reported by D Magazine:

Also read UTSW's news release about the research

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Zhao Zhang Lab