Y. George Zheng
Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award
Y. George Zheng, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, is an international expert in epigenetics and chemical biology. Epigenetic processes are inheritable changes in gene expression that are not involved in a DNA sequence. These processes play important roles in transforming normal cells into malignant tumor cells. Zheng’s laboratory seeks to understand how abnormalities in chromatin modifications can profoundly affect gene expression in diseases, particularly cancers. His cutting-edge research program has uncovered several previously unprecedented epigenetic biomarkers and mechanisms that significantly impacted the landscape of epigenetic research. His group has also developed a number of potent small molecule compounds with novel chemotype pharmacophores that interact or interfere with oncology-crucial epigenetic enzyme targets. The drug agents that his team has discovered or designed are undergoing a series of biochemical and preclinical tests and could eventually generate a new avenue for controlling cancer development, progression or metastasis.