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Professor and Chair email
Volker G094-J
(205) 934-8420

Research and Teaching Interests: Cardiac tissue engineering, NMR imaging, Heart failure

Office Hours: By appointment


  • CTF, Tufts University, Business Administration
  • M.D., Shanghai Medical University
  • M.S., Tufts University, Engineering
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Biomedical Engineering
  • Post-Doc, University of Minnesota, Cardiovascular Division

Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.H.A., is an international leader in myocardial bioenergetics, biomaterials, and stem cells for cardiac repair. He is a tenured Professor of Medicine and of Engineering; T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership; and the Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), a joint department of the School of Medicine and School of Engineering, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Visit Dr. Zhang's Research Website

He came to UAB in October 2015 after he was chosen in a national search to lead the UAB BME department from the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he was the Engdahl Family Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Regenerative Therapies, in addition to being a tenured professor of medicine, of biomedical engineering, of electrical engineering, and computer engineering. Among his recent honors and awards is the prestigious George E. Brown Memorial Lectureship for the 2014 AHA Scientific Sessions. He is also the recipient of an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association (1996) and a First Award from the National Institutes of Health (1993).

Zhang earned his M.D. from Shanghai Medical University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1992. He also earned a master of science in engineering (1987) and a certificate of business administration (1987) from Tufts University. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota, Zhang completed postdoctoral work in that university’s cardiovascular division. Since his arrival at UAB, the Department of Biomedical Engineering rose to the rank of 4th in the nation in NIH funding, with $4.3 million in FY16 under Zhang’s leadership. Dr. Zhang’s research interests include tissue engineering, myocardial energetics in hearts with postinfarction left-ventricle remodeling, heart failure, biomaterials, and stem cells for cardiac repair. He is currently the principal investigator of three R01 NIH grants in the fields of myocardial bioenergetics, biomaterials, and stem cells for cardiac repair, and an NIH U01 grant for the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Translational Consortium (PCTC) on cardiovascular tissue engineering, which continuous through 2022.

Over the years, the Zhang research lab has trained more than 60 trainees (Ph.D. students, post-docs, residents, and cardiology fellows), and led 11 Ph.D. students in biomedical engineering, physiology, or electrical engineering. Dr. Zhang is currently advisor to five students earning their Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, Pathology, or Electrical Engineering, respectively. Professional Organizations: Fellow, American Physiological Society; Fellow, American Heart Association. Reviewer on NIH study sections (MIM, charter member, others); scientific journal editorial board member for Circulation Research, Circulation, American Journal of Physiology, and others.

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Zhang's seminal contributions to cardiovascular physiology and cell therapy are:

    1. Use of in vivo NMR spectroscopy to study myocardial bioenergetic abnormality in hypertrophied and failing hearts;
    2. Cardiac cell therapy using adult or human pluripotent stem cells; and
    3. Design of scaffolds to enhance delivery of stem cells for cardiac repair.

    Using a canine model of severe LVH secondary to pressure overload, the Zhang lab was the first to demonstrate that in vivo LVH hearts are associated with myocardial bioenergetic inefficiency; the severity of this bioenergetic abnormality is linearly related to the severity of hypertrophy, but is independent from a persistent myocardial ischemia. The recent report from the Zhang lab of quantitatively measuring myocardial ATP hydrolysis rate in the in vivo heart using NMR spectroscopy has had a significant impact on the field of bioenergetics in vivo, not only to the cardiovascular sciences, but also to other important organ systems.

    In the past two decades, the Zhang lab’s active research areas have involved cell therapy for myocardial repair using autologous, allogenic adult stem cells, or human pluripotent stem cell (PSC) derived cardiac cells, and large-animal models of severe left-ventricular dysfunction with or without ischemic coronary artery disease. Dr. Zhang’s lab has been designing and fabricating myocardial tissue patches to examine the mechanisms and the functional outcomes of myocardial contractile-, bioenergetic-, and gene/protein expression changes in hearts receiving different types of cell transplantation (adult progenitor cells or iPSC-derivatives) using tissue engineering and molecular biochemistry tools.

  • Select Publications
    • Ye L, Chang YH, Kaufman DS, Ge Y, Zhang J. Cardiac Repair in a Porcine Model of Acute Myocardial Infarction with Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiovascular Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2014;15(6):750-761.

    • Gao L, Fast VG, Campagnola PJ, Ogle BM, Zhang J. Myocardial Tissue Engineering with Cells Derived from Human Induced-Pluripotent Stem Cells and a Native-Like, High-Resolution, 3-Dimensionally Printed Scaffold. Circulation Research. 2017 Apr 14; 120(8):1318-1325.

    • Zhu W, Zhao M, Zhang J. CCND2 Overexpression Enhances the Regenerative Potency of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes: Remuscularization of Injured Ventricle. Circulation Research. 2018 Jan 5;122(1):88-96.

    • Gao L, Gregorich ZR, Lloyd SG, Ge Y, Zhang J. Large Cardiac Muscle Patches Engineered from Human Induced-Pluripotent Stem-Cell-Derived Cardiac Cells Improve Recovery from Myocardial Infarction in Swine. Circulation. 2018 April 17;137(16):1712-1730.

    • Gao L, Yang L, Wang L, Gourley G, Zhang J. Relationships between the Efficacy of Cardiac Cell Therapy and the Inhibition of Differentiation of Human iPSC Derived Non-Myocyte Cardiac Cells into Myofibroblast-Like Cells. Circulation Research. 2018 Dec 7;123(12):1313-1325.

    • Zhu W, Zhang E, Zhao M, Fan C, Tang Y, Hunter JD, Borovjagin AV, Walcott GP, Chen JY, Qin G, Zhang J. Regenerative Potential of Neonatal Porcine Hearts. Circulation. 2018 Dec 11;138(24):2809-2816.

    • Zhao M, Zhang E, Wei Y, Zhou Y, Walcott GP, Zhang J Apical Resection Prolongs the Cell Cycle Activity and Promotes Myocardial Regeneration after LV Injury in Neonatal Pig. Circulation 2020;142:913–916

    • Gao L, Wang L, Wei Y, Menasché P, Zhang J. Exosomes secreted by hiPSC-derived cardiac cells improve recovery from myocardial infarction in swine. Science Translational Medicine 16 Sep 2020:Vol. 12, Issue 561

    • Zhao M, Nakada Y, Wei Y, Walcott GP, Zhang J. Cyclin D2 overexpression enhances the efficacy of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes for myocardial recovery in a swine model of myocardial infarction. Circulation 2021; 144:210–228

    • Sun J, Wang L, Walcott GP, Zhou Y, Zangi L, Zhang J. CCND2 Modified mRNA Activates Cell Cycle of Cardiomyocytes in Hearts With Myocardial Infarction in Mice and Pigs. Circ Res. 2023. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.123.322929

    Click here to view more publications by Dr. Zhang.

  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • Previously the Engdahl Family Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Regenerative Therapies at the University of Minnesota Medical School
    • George E. Brown Memorial Lectureship for the 2014 AHA Scientific Sessions
    • Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association
    • First Award from the National Institutes of Health
    • Fellow, Cardiovascular Section, American Physiological Society, 1995-present
    • Fellow, Council on Circulation (merged to BCVS), American Heart Association, 1995-present