Yue Zhao, Ph.D, has been selected as a Center Scientist in the Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease (M-LEEaD), a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Core Center hosted at the University of Michigan and based in the School of Public Health. With this award, Dr. Zhao will steer her research more towards environmental health sciences, helping to bridge the fields of bioinformatics, data science, and environmental health research.
Dr. Zhao joined the lab of Professor Maureen Sartor in the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (DCMB) in the Fall 2022 as a Research Assistant Professor. “Yue Zhao is already one of the most outstanding junior data scientists and bioinformaticians I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Dr. Sartor who looks forward to continuing mentoring her in all aspects of her career development, in collaboration with Professors Eva Feldman and Stephen Goutman of the Department of Neurology and their Center of Excellence for ALS and Emerging Therapies.
Yue Zhao will explore how environmental exposures contribute to disease risk, onset, and progression through their imprint on the epigenome and transcriptome. She is particularly interested inAmyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).The fact that approximately 90% of ALS cases are sporadic suggests that multiple factors, including genotypes and environmental exposures, contribute to disease risk, onset, and progression. Her proposal aims to investigate the impact of environmental pollutants on the epigenome and transcriptome of ALS patients, as well as the mechanistic connections between environmental exposures, DNA methylome, RNA transcriptome, ALS risk, and clinical outcomes. The study will utilize data generated from an ongoing NIH/NIEHS-funded R01 project, "Developing novel strategies for personalized treatment and prevention of ALS: Leveraging the global exposome, genome, epigenome, and metabolome, and inflammasome with data science in a case/control cohort."
M-LEEaD provides research support for training and mentorship of early-stage investigators and introduces them to the capabilities of the M-LEEaD Core Labs on Exposure Assessment, Omics & Data Sciences, Integrated Health Sciences, and Community Engagement. Director of M-LEEaD is Dr. Dana Dolinoy of the SPH Dept of Environmental Sciences; the co-directors of the Center Scientist program are Dr. Gilbert Omenn of DCMB and Dr. Justin Colacino of the SPH. The Center’s stated mission is promoting new translational research using novel multi-disciplinary approaches to better understand the impact of early environmental exposures on later-life diseases.
“The M-LEEaD Center Scientist award provides a great opportunity for me to gain a breadth of expertise in environmental health sciences approaches, learn the crucial role of community engagement, and collaborate with scientists in environmental health science. This training process will provide valuable experience for my career development as a junior research faculty,” Yue Zhao said. By joining the M-LEEaD Center, Dr. Zhao will also expand her network with the U-M community and beyond.
More about M-LEEaD Career Development Program
Yue Zhao, Lianbo Yu, Xue Wu, Haoran Li, Kevin R Coombes, Kin Fai Au, Lijun Cheng, Lang Li, CEDA: integrating gene expression data with CRISPR-pooled screen data identifies essential genes with higher expression, Bioinformatics, Volume 38, Issue 23, 1 December 2022, Pages 5245–5252, https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btac668