Yong (Tiger) Zhang received his BS in biological sciences from Shandong University in 2003 and his MS in biophysics from University of Guelph in 2006. He earned his PhD in biochemistry with Prof. Vern L. Schramm at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2011. His doctoral research was focused on the enzymatic transition state and catalytic mechanism for rational design of potent enzyme inhibitors as antimalarial and anticancer drugs. Zhang received postdoctoral training with Prof. Peter G. Schultz at the Scripps Research Institute and California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) from 2011 to 2014. His postdoctoral work established a versatile approach to the generation of novel antibody chimeras with excellent physical, biological and pharmacological properties for drug development. Zhang joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the USC School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor in December 2014.
Research in the Zhang Lab
Protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) result in critical changes on protein structure and biological function. The broad range of PTMs observed on various proteins vastly diversifies the inventory of organism proteome. Furthermore, highly abundant PTMs with dynamic pattern play essential and complex roles in biological processes. Our laboratory is very interested in developing innovative technologies to systematically dissect PTMs essential for cancer, inflammation, neurodegeneration and immune disorders for understanding the functional consequences and regulatory mechanisms of PTMs and for discovery of novel therapeutic targets and drug inhibitors. Antibody recognizes and neutralizes foreign pathogens and is an important component in immune system. The exquisite specificity and tight-binding affinity of monoclonal antibodies make antibody-based therapeutics ideal drug candidates. Development of monoclonal antibodies against ligands, receptors, and protein-protein interactions that play critical roles in various human diseases allows discovery of powerful therapeutic agents with minimum off-target effects. We are aimed at designing potent monoclonal antibodies with high specificity as novel immunotherapeutic tools for cancer, immune disorders, neurodegenerative, and infectious diseases, and developing new and robust protein engineering approaches for efficient generation of potent polypeptide-based diagnostics and therapeutics. Graduate students can receive direct and extensive training from PI in antibody engineering, enzymology and catalysis, inhibitor design and synthesis, protein expression, purification and characterization, cell culturing, assay development, proteomics, X-ray crystallography and NMR, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and high-throughput screening. Upon graduation, students are expected to possess multiple sets of skills and strong publication record, essential for career development in both academia and industry.