Qing Zhang, PhD, to Receive 2024 Outstanding Investigator Award

Qing Zhang

May 1, 2023 — The 2024 recipient of the ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award is Dr. Qing Zhang, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Co-Director of the Kidney Cancer Career Enhancement Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX).

The ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award recognizes mid-career investigators with demonstrated excellence in experimental pathology research, including impactful achievements related to research, teaching, mentorship, leadership in the field of pathology, and contributions to the Society. 

Dr. Zhang completed a BS (with Distinction) in biochemistry from Wuhan University (China) in 2001 and PhD in pharmacology working with Dr. Jennifer Grandis in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2005. From 2006-2013, Dr. Zhang worked as a postdoctoral fellow (2006-06/2011) and an instructor (07/2011-01/2013) in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. William Kaelin Jr. at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, MA). Dr. Zhang’s postdoctoral research focused on prolyl hydroxylase and oxygen-sensing pathways in cancer. In February 2013, Dr. Zhang relocated to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and was appointed an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with a secondary appointment in the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (Chapel Hill, NC). Dr. Zhang was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019 and subsequently relocated to the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX). Dr. Zhang is currently an Associate Professor and Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar in Cancer Research.

Dr. Zhang has been a member of the ASIP since 2013. He currently serves as a member of the Editorial Board for The American Journal of Pathology (2020-present), and is Co-Leader of the Neoplasia/Growth Control Scientific Interest Group (2018-present). Dr. Zhang is a frequent contributor to ASIP scientific meetings and served on the Program Committee from 2018-2022. In 2020, Dr. Zhang’s promise as an early career investigator was recognized with the ASIP Cotran Early Career Investigator Award.

Dr. Zhang’s research program has been continuously funded since the start of his academic career. In 2011, he was awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH. In 2015, he received a Susan G. Komen Career Catalyst Award. Dr. Zhang subsequently received research awards from the Department of Defense, The V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Mary Kay Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Kidney Cancer Research Alliance (KCCure). Currently his research is supported by awards from the NIH, DoD, ACS, KCCure, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Beyond his excellent record of funding, Dr. Zhang’s research program is exceptionally productive. Dr. Zhang has published 72 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters. The impact of his research is reflected in his H-index, which is 37, and his papers have been cited >5,000 times to-date.

In the nomination package for this award, Dr. Zhang’s nominators described his outstanding contributions to teaching in the classroom, mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows in the laboratory, and his service to UTSW and to the filed at-large (through service to the NIH and professional societies), but their focus was on Dr. Zhang’s strong and productive research program. In his letter of nomination, Dr. James S. Malter (Senator Betty and Dr. Andy Andujar Distinguished Chair in Pathology, UT Southwestern) noted the importance of Dr. Zhang’s research focus and his innovative approach to research: “…Dr. Zhang and his group are studying a fundamental question in the cancer field – how do cancer cells sense low oxygen tension, adapt to this stressful environment, and proliferate out of control? To address these broad but critical questions, Dr. Zhang has pioneered unbiased genome and proteome-wide approaches to identify new signaling molecules in oxygen sensing signaling pathways, which have yielded new therapeutic targets in cancer…” In his letter of support, Dr. Qin Yan (professor of Pathology, Yale University) commented on the success of Dr. Zhang’s research approach: “…Dr. Zhang has taken advantage of his earlier stringent biology/biochemistry training…in combination with development of new methodologies, led tremendous amounts of effort to identifying new signaling molecules that may reveal potential therapeutic vulnerabilities in cancer…he continues to push the boundaries and has published many high-impact papers…” In addition to stellar commentary on Dr. Zhang’s research endeavors, his nominators also noted his collegiality. Dr. Wenyi Wei (Professor of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) noted Dr. Zhang’s value as a collaborator and colleague: “…Dr. Zhang is such a critical thinker that I always sent my papers to him for critical review before submission…He always gave me insightful suggestions and raised important questions…”

Dr. Zhang will receive the 2024 ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award during the 2024 Annual Meeting of the ASIP in Baltimore, MD (April 2024).