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Cheng Lab

    Zhiyong Cheng

Zhiyong Cheng, PhD
Assistant Professor, Principal Investigator

2006 Harvard University Medical School, HHMI, Postdoc (Biochemistry/Metabolism)
2004 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Postdoc (Biochemistry/Enzymology)
2003 Peking University, PhD (Analytical Chemistry)

Mission           Projects            Recent Publications            Join the Lab  


Welcome to Dr. Cheng’s Lab! We are dedicated to a better understanding of metabolic disorders and to developing mechanism-driven therapeutic rationales for human metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes, obesity, and cancer). To make a lasting impact in this field, we are motivated to conduct well-designed studies leading to exciting and novel discoveries. Here in the Cheng Lab, you will enjoy great team work and good scholarship. All lab members are expected to work individually, collaboratively, and supportively. Our priority is that you are happy in the lab and enjoy science and discovery, so you can be productive and well prepared for the future career.


Metabolic diseases have become a global health issue to date. Previous studies have suggested genetic and environmental factors, as well as gene-environment interactions (epigenetics), are significantly associated with metabolic disorders. As the primary metabolic platform, mitochondria show various defects in individuals with metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes, obesity, and cancer). How genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors regulate mitochondrial function is the topic of intensive research in our lab. The ongoing projects include: (1) genetic and epigenetic regulation of mitochondrial function and metabolic reprogramming, (2) the redox role of mitochondria in regulating nutrient and energy homeostasis, and (3) nutritional solutions to mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic diseases. We employ interdisciplinary techniques and foster a broad collaboration with the research laboratories of chemistry, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and bioinformatics.

 Recent Publications

Cheng Z, Ristow M. Mitochondria and metabolic homeostasis. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 2013 Jul 20; 19(3):240-2.

Wang Z, Cheng Z, Cristofaro V, Li J, Xiao X, Gomez P, Ge R, Gong E, Strle K, Sullivan MP, Adam RM, White MF, Olumi AF. Inhibition of TNF-α Improves the Bladder Dysfunction That Is Associated With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes, 2012 Aug; 61(8):2134-45.

Cheng Z, White MF. kNOXing on the door of selective insulin resistance. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 2012 May; 32(5):1063-5.

Cheng Z, White MF. The AKTion in non-canonical insulin signaling. Nature Medicine, 2012 Mar 6; 18(3):351-3.

Sadagurski M, Cheng Z, Rozzo A, Palazzolo I, Kelley GR, Dong X, Krainc D, White MF. IRS2 increases mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in a mouse model of Huntington disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2011 Oct 3; 121(10):4070-81.

Cheng Z, Zhang J, Ballou DP, Williams CH. Reactivity of thioredoxin as a protein thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase. Chemical Reviews, 2011 Sep 14; 111(9):5768-83.

Long YC, Cheng Z, Copps KD, White MF. Insulin receptor substrates Irs1 and Irs2 coordinate skeletal muscle growth and metabolism via the Akt and AMPK pathways. Molecular Cellular Biology, 2011 Feb; 31(3):430-41.

Cheng Z, White MF. Targeting Forkhead box O1 from the concept to metabolic diseases: lessons from mouse models. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 2011 Feb 15; 14(4):649-61.

Additional Publications

 Join the Lab

Graduate: we welcome highly motivated and inspired students to discover and maximize their talents and potentials in our lab. Please send your CV and personal statement to Preference will be given to candidates who have clear career goals and a steady motivation and interest in metabolic research.

Undergraduate students: if you are dedicated and passionate about metabolic research, send an inquiry about openings to Please enclose your personal statement describing your goal to join the lab, your previous experience and relevant coursework, as well as your tentative plan to conduct research in our lab (e.g., timeline, work schedule, etc.).