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Tongwu Zhang Appointed Earl Stadtman Investigator

, by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

Tongwu Zhang is an Earl Stadtman investigator in the Biostatistics Branch.

Tongwu Zhang, Ph.D., was appointed as an Earl Stadtman investigator in the Biostatistics Branch in September 2023. Dr. Zhang studies the genetics and genomics of cancer risk and etiology using the tools of computational biology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, and mathematics. 

Dr. Zhang is particularly interested in characterizing tumor heterogeneity and evolution in relation to specific genetic backgrounds and etiological factors. He will focus his research program on developing novel genomic analytical approaches to study complex genomic features (e.g., extrachromosomal DNA, mutational signatures etc.), investigate the interplay between germline and somatic alterations, and build interactive portals for data analyses and visualization. Over time, Dr. Zhang plans to extend these approaches to analyze haplotype-resolved genomic data based on personalized population-specific reference genomes and to characterize tumor evolution through the analysis of single-cell DNA sequencing data from normal and tumor tissues. 

Dr. Zhang’s interdisciplinary training, analytical skills, and expertise in computational biology and functional genomics are a tremendous asset to the Division. Prior to his appointment in BB, he was a staff scientist in the group of Maria Teresa Landi, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator in the Integrative Tumor Epidemiology Branch, where he led data analysis for large-scale multi-omics studies, including Sherlock-Lung, the Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology Study, and multi-region whole genome sequencing of papillary renal cell carcinomas. He was also a research fellow in the laboratory of Kevin Brown, Ph.D., senior investigator in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics, where he conducted analyses of genetic and functional data on cutaneous melanoma and built cell-type specific quantitative trait locus (QTL) resource of primary melanocytes to characterize melanoma susceptibility loci. Notably, this unique QTL resource has been incorporated into the ezQTL webtool developed by Dr. Zhang, which facilitates the integrative visualization of QTLs and their colocalization with GWAS data.  

Dr. Zhang completed his Ph.D. in bioinformatics at Zhejiang University, China. He conducted part of his doctoral research at the Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Science and the Joint Genomic Research Center, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, where he worked on whole-genome sequencing and assembly based on different next-generation sequencing technologies. His research has been recognized with numerous awards, including an NCI Director’s Award, NCI Director’s Innovation Award, CCR-DCEG FLEX Award, and several awards from DCEG.