Explore UAB

" "

Assistant Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
SHEL 805
(205) 934-1227

Research and Teaching Interests: Cardiac reprogramming, Heart regeneration, Stem cells, Epigenetics

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.S., Fudan University, China
  • Ph.D., Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, Development Biology
  • Post-Doc, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cardiovascular Biology

Dr. Yang Zhou joined the faculty in January 2019 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, McAllister Heart Institute.

She has extensive experience and expertise in cardiac differentiation and reprogramming. Her research focuses on studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac differentiation and direct reprogramming. The cardiac reprogramming offers a promising strategy to generate functional heart muscle cells for heart repair. The long-term goal of Zhou’s research is to comprehensively understand the genetic and epigenetic regulation for cell fate conversion, which will ultimately aid in the achievement of regenerative therapy and personalized medicine in the future.

  • Research Interests

    Direct cardiac reprogramming is a new technology which converts a somatic non-myocyte directly into an induced cardiomyocyte (iCM). This technology not only provides a promising platform for the study of cellular plasticity, disease modeling and drug screening, but also is considered a therapeutic approach capable of restoring the function of an injured heart. However, it still faces challenges in efficiently generating mature iCMs. Dr. Yang Zhou’s current research interests are to understand the molecular basis of direct cardiac reprogramming, with which to improve the clinical applicability and efficiency of this novel approach.

    The cell fate of various cell types within an individual is determined and maintained mostly by distinct patterns of epigenetic modifications, which can help to determine whether genes are turned on or off. Cell reprogramming is inherently an epigenetic remodeling process. Zhou has identified a key epigenetic barrier to iCM reprogramming, as well as other epigenetic modifiers and splicing factors regulating reprogramming. Removal of these barriers largely enhance iCM reprogramming. Zhou has also determined the distinct molecular features between iCM and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived CMs (iPSC-CMs) through comparative transcriptomics and functional validations, providing guidance for future applications of each reprogramming approach. Her ongoing projects include development of efficient and reliable human iCM reprogramming platform, gene regulatory and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the direct cell fate conversion into human iCMs, and in situ heart regeneration via direct reprogramming.

  • Select Publications
    • Tang Y*, Sajesan A*, Geng X, Zhou X, Fast V, Zhang J, Lu R#, Zhou Y#. TBX20 Improves Contractility and Mitochondrial Function during Direct Human Cardiac Reprogramming. Circulation. 2022 Sep 14; 14:101161CIRCULATIONAHA122059713. Epub ahead of print.
    • Nakada Y, Zhou Y, Gong W, Zhang ER, Skie E, Nguyen T, Wei T, Zhao M, Chen W, Sun J, Raza SN, Chen JY, Walcott GP, Garry DJ, Zhang J. Single Nucleus Transcriptomics: Apical Resection in Newborn Pigs Extends the Time Window of Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Myocardial Regeneration. Circulation. 2022;145:1744–1747.
    • Tang Y, Zhao L, Yu X, Zhang J, Qian L, Jin J, Lu R, Zhou Y#. Inhibition of EZH2 Primes the Cardiac Gene Activation via Removal of Epigenetic Repression during Human Direct Cardiac Reprogramming. Stem Cell Research. 2021 April 27:102365 (Editor's Choice: 2021 Highlights Stem Cell Research)
    • Zhao M*, Zhang E*, Wei Y, Zhou Y, Walcott G, Zhang J. Apical Resection Prolongs the Cell Cycle Activity and Promotes Myocardial Regeneration after LV Injury in Neonatal Pig. Circulation 2020 142:913-916
    • Wang L, Ma H, Huang P, Xie Y, Near D, Wang H, Xu J, Yang Y, Xu Y, Garbutt T. Zhou Y, Liu Z, Yin C, Bressan M, Taylor JM, Liu J and Qian L. Downregulation of Beclin1 promotes direct cardiac reprogramming. Sci Transl Med. 2020 Oct 21;12(566)
    • Zhou Y, Zhang J. Single-cell Transcriptomics: New Insights in Heart Research. Circulation. 2020 May 26; 141 (21), 1720-1723.
    • Zhou Y*, Liu Z*, Welch JD, Gao X, Wang L, Ma H, Garbutt T, Huang PS, Vaseghi HR, Yin C, Prins JF, Shen W, Liu J, Qian L. Comparative single cell transcriptomics reveals distinct cell fate transition statuses during human cardiac reprogramming. Cell Stem Cell. 2019 Jul 3;25(1):149-64
    • Zhou Y, Alimohamadi S, Wang L, Liu Z, Wall JB, Yin C, Liu J, Qian L. A loss of function screen of epigenetic modifiers and splicing factors during early stage of cardiac reprogramming. Stem cells international. 2018 Mar 18;2018.
    • Liu Z, Wang L, Welch JD, Ma H, Zhou Y, Vaseghi HR, Yu S, Wall JB, Alimohamadi S, Zheng M, Yin C, Shen W, Prins JF, Liu J, Qian L. Single-cell transcriptomics reconstructs fate conversion from fibroblast to cardiomyocyte. Nature. 2017 Nov 2;551(7678):100-104.
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • Transformational Project Award, American Heart Association (AHA), 2022
    • Melvin L. Marcus Early Career Investigator Award, Cardiovascular Sciences Finalist, American Heart Association (AHA), 2021
    • IMPACT Fund Award, School of Medicine, UAB, 2021-2025
    • Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award Finalist, Basic Cardiovascular Sciences (BCVS) 2020 Scientific Sessions, American Heart Association (AHA), 2020
    • Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence (PARE), UNC-Chapel Hill, 2018
    • Travel Award, International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Annual Meeting, 2012
    • Poster Award, 9th Graduate Research Appreciation Day, Institute of Health Sciences. Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2011
    • Students Excellence Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2011
    • Early Career Membership, American Heart Association, AHA
    • Associate Membership, International Society for Stem Cell Research