Peng Zhang Assistant Professor of Medicine (Research)

Dr. Zhang was promoted to Instructor in Medicine in 2008 and to Assistant Professor of Medicine in 2010 after his postdoctoral training in the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) of the Cardiology Division of Rhode Island Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His research interests concentrate on cardiac remodeling, with a particular focus on cardiac fibroblasts and their role and regulation in the normal and diseased heart. As a principle investigator, his work has been supported by Medical Research Grant from Rhode Island Foundation (2010-2011) and a Pilot Project Award (2011-2013) from NIH COBRE for Perinatal Biology. Recently, Dr. Zhang was awarded by the American Heart Association a National Scientist Development Grant (2013-2016), which aims to support highly promising beginning scientists in their progress toward independence by encouraging and adequately funding research projects that can bridge the gap between completion of research training and readiness for successful competition as an independent investigator.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Desroches BR*, Zhang P*, Choi B, King ME, Maldonado AE, Li W, Rago A, Liu GX, Nath N, Hartmann KM, Yang B, Koren G, Morgan JR, Mende U. Functional scaffold-free 3D cardiac microtissues: a novel model for the investigation of heart cells. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2012; 302(10): H2031-H2042. * with equal contributions

Park-Windhol C, Zhang P, Zhu M, Su J, Chaves Jr L, Maldonado AE, King ME, Rickey L, Cullen D , Mende U. Gq/11-mediated signaling and hypertrophy in mice with cardiac-specific transgenic RGS2 expression. PLoS ONE 2012; 7: e40048.

Zhang P, Su J, Mende U. Cross-regulation between cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol: 2012 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print].

Zhang P*, Su J, King ME, Maldonado Lopez AE, Park C, Mende U. Regulator of G protein signaling 2 is a functionally important negative regulator of Angiotensin II-induced cardiac fibroblast responses. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2011; 301: H147-H156. * corresponding author
(An image from this paper was selected as cover image for AJP-Heart and Circulatory Physiology for 6 issues from July 2011 to December 2011)

Zhang P, Mende U. Regulators of G Protein Signaling in the heart and their potential as therapeutic targets. Circ Res 2011; 109: 320-333.

research overview

Dr. Peng Zhang's research mainly focuses on cardiac fibroblasts and the regulation of their function under a variety of pathological conditions such as high blood pressure and after heart attacks. While fibroblasts are important cellular targets for treatment of cardiac remodeling, efforts to develop the treatments that specifically target fibroblasts are still at an early stage. Our goal is to devise new therapeutic strategies that ultimately should benefit patients with cardiovascular disease.

research statement

Dr. Zhang investigates cardiac remodeling in response to hemodynamic stress, with a particular focus on cardiac fibroblasts and their role and regulation in the normal and diseased heart. The long-term goal of his studies is to advance understanding of the signaling mechanisms that determine cardiac fibroblast function and may provide new opportunities for treatment and prevention of cardiac fibrosis, a major pathologic end-point of many forms of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Zhang utilizes both in vitro (primary culture of cardiac fibroblasts) and in vivo (reactive and reparative fibrosis) models in his research along with gene manipulation approaches and analytical techniques (e.g., cellular and molecular assays, in vivo hemodynamic measurement with pressure-volume catheters). Recently, his research interest expanded to microRNAs, which are newly identified, essential regulatory molecules in both cardiac development and disease. He is investigating their expression, regulation and functional role in regulating cardiac fibroblast function.

funded research

Current Research Funding:

Title: Regulation of Cardiac Fibroblast Function by MicroRNAs
Grant/Source: American Heart Association, Scientist Development Grant (National Center)
Dates: 1/1/2013 - 12/31/2016
Amount: $70,000 per year (direct)
Role: Principal Investigator

Project Title: Transgenic Mouse Models for Conditional Expression of MicroRNAs
Grant/Source: NIH, COBRE Center for Cancer Signaling Networks (PI: Dr. W. Atwood)
Dates: 6/1/2013 - 3/31/2014
Amount: $7,000 (Direct)
Role: Principal Investigator of COBRE Seed Fund Award

Project Title: Reactivation of Fetal/Early Postnatal MicroRNA Program in Adult Cardiac Fibroblasts during Cardiac Remodeling
Grant/Source: NIH, COBRE for Perinatal Biology (PI: Dr. J. Padbury)
Dates: 8/1/2011 - 7/31/2013
Amount: $105,000 (total direct)
Role: Principal Investigator of COBRE Pilot Project

Past Research Funding:

Title: MicroRNA Expression, Regulation and Function in Cardiac Fibroblasts
Grant/Source: Rhode Island Foundation
Dates: 3/2010 - 12/2011
Amount: $15,000 (Direct)
Role: Principal Investigator