Guangjun Zhang

Guangjun Zhang Profile Picture

John T. and Winifred M. Hayward Assistant Professor of Genetic Research, Genetic Epidemiology and Comparative Medicine
University of Florida, Ph.D., 2007; MIT, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2012

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Computational and Systems Biology
Cancer Biology

Active Mentor - currently hosting PULSe students for laboratory rotations and recruiting PULSe students into the laboratory; serves on preliminary exam committees

Current Research Interests:

Most human cancer cell genomes contain thousands of genetic alterations. But not all the altered genes equally contribute to cancer development and progression. A major goal of current cancer research is to distinguish pathogenetically relevant genetic alterations (drivers) from the passive changes (passengers) in cancer genome, thus targeting therapy can be developed on human tumors. Our lab mainly uses zebrafish as a model to study human cancer biology and vertebrate developmental biology. Specifically, we focus on two directions within cancer biology: 1. Identify novel human cancer driver genes through zebrafish-human comparative oncogenomic analysis of copy number alterations. Following identification, novel genes’ functions in cancer and vertebrate development will be extensively investigated in zebrafish adults and embryos. 2. Investigate the general biological consequences of aneuploidy and polyploidy, and their roles in cancer development. In addition, we are also interested in the developmental mechanisms of vertebrate morphological novelties during evolution (Evo-Devo), especially the roles of gene/genome duplications in early vertebrates.

Selected Publications:

1. Zhang G, Hoersch S, Amsterdam A, Whittaker CA, Beert E, et al. (2013) Comparative Oncogenomic Analysis of Copy Number Alterations in Human and Zebrafish Tumors Enables Cancer Driver Discovery. PLoS Genet 9(8): e1003734. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003734

2. Zhang G., Vemulapalli, T.H., Yang J.Y. (2013) Phylooncogenomics: Examining the cancer genome in the context of vertebrate evolution. Applied & Translational Genomics, Advanced online publication,

3. Zhang G., Hoersch S., Amsterdam A., Whittaker C.A,. Lees J.A., Hopkins N. (2010). Highly aneuploid zebrafish malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors have genetic alterations similar to human cancers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107: 16940–16945.

4. Zhang, G. (2009). An Evo-Devo view on the origin of the backbone: evolutionary development of the vertebrae. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49: 178-186.

5. Zhang, G. Eames, B.F. and Cohn, M.J. (2009). Evolution of Vertebrate Cartilage Development. Current Topics in Developmental Biology 86: 15-42.

6. Zhang, G. and Cohn, M.J. (2008). Genome duplication and the origin of the vertebrate skeleton. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 18:387–393.

7. Freitas, R., Zhang, G. and Cohn, M. J (2007). Multiphasic expression of HoxA and HoxD genes during shark fin development: implications for the origin of tetrapod limbs. PLoS ONE, 2: e754.

8. Zhang, G. and Cohn, M.J. (2006). Hagfish and lancelet fibrillar collagens reveal that type II collagen-based cartilage evolved in stem vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103: 16829-33.

9. Freitas, R., Zhang, G., Cohn, M.J. (2006). Evidence that mechanisms of fin development evolved in the midline of early vertebrates. Nature. 2006 442: 1033-7.

10. Zhang, G., Miyamoto, M.M., Cohn, M.J. (2006). Lamprey type II collagen and Sox9 reveal an ancient origin of the vertebrate collagenous skeleton. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103: 3180-5.

11. Freitas, R., Zhang, G., Albert, J.S., Evans, D.H., Cohn, M.J. (2006). Developmental origin of shark electrosensory organs. Evolution and Development. 8: 74-80.

  • Faculty Profile

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