• Dr. Zhou obtained a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Wuhan University School of Medicine (formerly Hubei Medical University) in China and a PhD degree from Kyushu University in Japan. He completed his postdoctoral training with Dr. Joanne E. Murphy-Ullrich in area of matrix biology at the Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was promoted to Instructor of Pathology. In 2009, Dr. Zhou was recruited to Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine as a tenure-earning Assistant Professor and is now Professor with tenure in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Zhou was recipient of American Thoracic Society (ATS) Recognition Award for Outstanding Early Career Investigator, International Colloquium on Lung and Airway Fibrosis (ICLAF) Young Investigator Award, and School of Medicine Dean's Excellence Award in Mentoring. Dr. Zhou currently serves on the editorial board of American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. He has served as session chair, co-chair, and facilitator at the ATS International Conferences.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2023 Comparative analysis of the cardiomyocyte differentiation potential of induced pluripotent stem cells reprogrammed from human atrial or ventricular fibroblastsFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.  11. 2023
    2023 Mitochondrial fission and bioenergetics mediate human lung fibroblast durotaxisJCI Insight.  8. 2023
    2023 Pulmonary fibrosis: A short- or long-term sequelae of severe COVID-19? 2023
    2022 A review of protocols for human iPSC culture, cardiac differentiation, subtype-specification, maturation, and direct reprogrammingSTAR Protocols.  3. 2022
    2022 Cardiomyocyte Cell-Cycle Regulation in Neonatal Large Mammals: Single Nucleus RNA-Sequencing Data Analysis via an Artificial-Intelligence–Based PipelineFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.  10. 2022
    2022 Extracellular Matrix Stiffness in Lung Health and DiseaseComprehensive Physiology.  12:3523-3558. 2022
    2022 Targeting Asporin in Lung Fibrosis: A New Approach to an Old ConceptAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  66:115-116. 2022
    2021 Cyclin D2 Overexpression Enhances the Efficacy of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes for Myocardial Repair in a Swine Model of Myocardial InfarctionCirculation.  144:210-228. 2021
    2021 Inhibition of EZH2 primes the cardiac gene activation via removal of epigenetic repression during human direct cardiac reprogrammingStem Cell Research.  53. 2021
    2021 Changes in cardiomyocyte cell cycle and hypertrophic growth during fetal to adult in mammalsJournal of the American Heart Association.  10:1-12. 2021
    2021 Targeting mechanosensitive MDM4 promotes lung fibrosis resolution in aged miceJournal of Experimental Medicine.  218. 2021
    2020 Down-regulation of Beclin1 promotes direct cardiac reprogrammingScience Translational Medicine.  12. 2020
    2020 Functional interrogation of HOXA9 regulome in MLLr leukemia via reporter-based CRISPR/Cas9 screeneLife.  9:1-30. 2020
    2020 Oxidative cross-linking of fibronectin confers protease resistance and inhibits cellular migrationScience Signaling.  13. 2020
    2019 Cigarette Smoke Extract Promotes Human Lung Myofibroblast Differentiation by the Induction of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress 2019
    2019 Single-Cell Transcriptomic Analyses of Cell Fate Transitions during Human Cardiac ReprogrammingCell Stem Cell.  25:149-164.e9. 2019
    2019 Rosiglitazone treatment prevents postoperative fibrosis in a rabbit model of glaucoma filtration surgery 2019
    2019 The immunomodulatory role of interleukin-35 in fibrotic diseasesExpert Review of Clinical Immunology.  15:431-439. 2019
    2019 Beyond fibroblast heterogeneity: What single-cell RNA sequencing tells usAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  61:7-8. 2019
    2018 Extracellular matrix in lung development, homeostasis and diseaseMatrix Biology.  73:77-104. 2018
    2018 Reversing mechanoinductive DSP expression by CRISPR/dCas9–mediated epigenome editingAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.  198:599-609. 2018
    2018 α6-Integrin alternative splicing: Distinct cytoplasmic variants in stem cell fate specification and niche interactionStem Cell Research and Therapy.  9. 2018
    2018 Most good, least harm: Isoform-specific targeting of ROCK in pulmonary fibrosisAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  58:421-422. 2018
    2018 A loss of function screen of epigenetic modifiers and splicing factors during early stage of cardiac reprogrammingStem Cells International.  2018. 2018
    2017 Systematic comparison of 2A peptides for cloning multi-genes in a polycistronic vectorScientific Reports.  7. 2017
    2017 Single-cell transcriptomics reconstructs fate conversion from fibroblast to cardiomyocyteNature.  551:100-104. 2017
    2017 Serpine 1 induces alveolar type II cell senescence through activating p53-p21-Rb pathway in fibrotic lung diseaseAging Cell.  16:1114-1124. 2017
    2017 Comparative Gene Expression Analyses Reveal Distinct Molecular Signatures between Differentially Reprogrammed CardiomyocytesCell Reports.  20:3014-3024. 2017
    2017 Focal adhesion kinase signaling determines the fate of lung epithelial cells in response to TGF-β 2017
    2017 miR-34a promotes fibrosis in aged lungs by inducing alveolarepithelial dysfunctions 2017
    2017 MIR-34a inhibits lung fibrosis by inducing lung fibroblast senescenceAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  56:168-178. 2017
    2017 3D pulmospheres serve as a personalized and predictive multicellular model for assessment of antifibrotic drugs.JCI Insight.  2:e91377. 2017
    2016 Tristetraprolin down-regulation contributes to persistent TNF-alpha expression induced by cigarette smoke extract through a post- transcriptional mechanismPLoS One.  11. 2016
    2016 Advanced Technologies Lead iNto New Reprogramming RoutesCell Stem Cell.  19:286-288. 2016
    2016 Mechanosensing by the α 6-integrin confers an invasive fibroblast phenotype and mediates lung fibrosisNature Communications.  7. 2016
    2016 Alveolar epithelial disintegrity in pulmonary fibrosis 2016
    2016 Generation of an inducible fibroblast cell line for studying direct cardiac reprogramming 2016
    2016 Image-based quantification of fiber alignment within electrospun tissue engineering scaffolds is related to mechanical anisotropyJournal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A.  104:1680-1686. 2016
    2016 The matricellular protein CCN1 enhances TGF-β1/SMAD3-dependent profibrotic signaling in fibroblasts and contributes to fibrogenic responses to lung injury 2016
    2016 Nanofiber alignment regulates NIH3T3 cell orientation and cytoskeletal gene expression on electrospun PCL+gelatin nanofibersPLoS One.  11. 2016
    2016 Re-patterning of H3K27me3, H3K4me3 and DNA methylation during fibroblast conversion into induced cardiomyocytesStem Cell Research.  16:507-518. 2016
    2015 High-magnitude and/or high-frequency mechanical strain promotes peripapillary scleral myofibroblast differentiation 2015
    2015 Improved generation of induced cardiomyocytes using a polycistronic construct expressing optimal ratio of Gata4, Mef2c And Tbx5Journal of Visualized Experiments.  2015. 2015
    2015 Interferon-induced mechanosensing defects impede apoptotic cell clearance in lupusJournal of Clinical Investigation.  125:2877-2890. 2015
    2015 Noninvasive imaging of experimental lung fibrosisAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  53:8-13. 2015
    2015 Inhibition of myocardin-related transcription factor/serum response factor signaling decreases lung fibrosis and promotes mesenchymal cell apoptosisAmerican Journal of Pathology.  185:969-986. 2015
    2014 Fibrosis: Ultimate and proximate causesJournal of Clinical Investigation.  124:4673-4677. 2014
    2014 Therapeutic targeting of Src kinase in myofibroblast differentiation and pulmonary fibrosisJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.  351:87-95. 2014
    2014 Negative regulation of NADPH oxidase 4 by Hydrogen peroxide-inducible clone 5 (Hic-5) proteinJournal of Biological Chemistry.  289:18270-18278. 2014
    2014 A far-upstream AP-1/Smad binding box regulates human NOX4 promoter activation by transforming growth factor-βGene.  540:62-67. 2014
    2014 Matrix biology of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: A workshop report of the national heart, lung, and blood instituteAmerican Journal of Pathology.  184:1643-1651. 2014
    2013 Erratum: Myofibroblast differentiation and enhanced Tgf-B signaling in cystic fibrosis lung disease (PLoS ONE (2013) 8 (8))PLoS One.  8. 2013
    2013 Myofibroblast Differentiation and Enhanced Tgf-B Signaling in Cystic Fibrosis Lung DiseasePLoS One.  8. 2013
    2013 Inhibition of mechanosensitive signaling in myofibroblasts ameliorates experimental pulmonary fibrosisJournal of Clinical Investigation.  123:1096-1108. 2013
    2012 Neuronal Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP) is critical for formation of α-smooth muscle action filaments during myofibroblast differentiation 2012
    2012 Matrix stiffness-induced myofibroblast differentiation is mediated by intrinsic mechanotransductionAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.  47:340-348. 2012
    2011 Relaxin Regulates Myofibroblast Contractility and Protects against Lung FibrosisAmerican Journal of Pathology.  179:2751-2765. 2011
    2011 New insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosisDrugs.  71:981-1001. 2011
    2010 Thy-1-integrin αvβ5 interactions inhibit lung fibroblast contraction-induced latent transforming growth factor-β1 activation and myofibroblast differentiationJournal of Biological Chemistry.  285:22382-22393. 2010
    2009 Latent transforming growth factor-β-binding protein-4 regulates transforming growth factor-β1 bioavailability for activation by fibrogenic lung fibroblasts in response to bleomycinAmerican Journal of Pathology.  174:21-33. 2009
    2006 Thrombospondin 1 mediates angiotensin II induction of TGF-β activation by cardiac and renal cells under both high and low glucose conditionsBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.  339:633-641. 2006
    2004 Thy-1 expression regulates the ability of rat lung fibroblasts to activate transforming growth factor-β in response to fibrogenic stimuliAmerican Journal of Pathology.  165:659-669. 2004
    2002 Growth-associated gene expression profiles by microarray analysis of trophoblast of molar pregnancies and normal villi. 2002
    2002 Identification of FOXC1 as a TGF-β1 responsive gene and its involvement in negative regulation of cell growthGenomics.  80:465-472. 2002
    2001 Genetic origin of malignant trophoblastic neoplasms analyzed by sequence tag site polymorphic markersGynecologic Oncology.  81:247-253. 2001
    2000 Suppressed tumorigenicity of human endometrial cancer cells by the restored expression of the DCC geneBritish Journal of Cancer.  82:459-466. 2000
    1999 Involvement of mutations in the DPC4 promoter in endometrial carcinoma developmentMolecular Carcinogenesis.  25:64-72. 1999
    1998 Genetics of gestational trophoblastic diseasesCme Journal of Gynecologic Oncology.  3:5-13. 1998


    Year Title Altmetric
    2019 Adult pulmonary mesenchymal progenitors.  337-348. 2019

    Research Overview

  • Dr. Zhou's research focuses on the mechanobiology of lung repair and regeneration. Stiffening of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a cardinal feature of human idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Studies from Dr. Zhou’s laboratory demonstrated that biomechanical signals from the stiffened fibrotic ECM promote lung myofibroblast differentiation (Huang et al, AJRCMB 2012; Zhou et al, JCI 2013), fibroblast migration (Guo et al, JCI Insight 2023) and invasion into the basement membrane (Chen, Qu et al, Nat Commun 2016), and IPF-associated gene expression in both lung fibroblasts (Zhou et al, JCI Insight 2020) and alveolar epithelial cells (Qu et al, AJRCCM 2018). Preclinical studies in experimental lung fibrosis models showed that targeting aberrant mechanical signaling inhibits the profibrotic phenotype of lung cells and promotes lung fibrosis resolution in mice (Qu et al, JEM 2021, Chen, Qu et al, Nat Commun 2016, Zhou et al, JCI 2013). Dysfunction of lung stem/progenitor cells impairs lung tissue regeneration following injury, contributing to pulmonary fibrosis. Stem cells are known to reside in a specialized microenvironment known as the stem cell niche. The stem cell niche provides instructive cues for stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Current studies in Dr. Zhou’s laboratory aimed to determine the role of mechanical microenvironment (mechano-niche) in the regulation of lung stem/progenitor cell properties and niche cell fate, and to test the therapeutic potential of targeting mechano-niche in reinstatement of the regenerative propensity of lung stem cells and the reversal of pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Investigator On

  • MRI: Acquisition of Bio Atomic Force Microscope for Materials Research and Education  awarded by NSF - National Science Foundation
  • Mechanosignaling Regulates Macrophage Immunometabolism  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Optic Nerve Head Mechanobiology in Glaucoma  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Scleral Remodeling in Myopia  awarded by National Eye Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease  awarded by TULANE UNIVERSITY
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease - Core B: Animal Core  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease - Project Two: Redox Regulation of Metabolic Reprogramming in Activated Myofibroblasts  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease: Project 2 - miR-31 as a Negative Regulator of Pulmonary Fibrosis  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • Therapeutic Targeting of the Myofibroblast in Fibrotic Lung Disease: Project 3 - NOX4 as a Therapeutic Target in IPF  awarded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH/DHHS
  • UAB Research and Development Program  awarded by Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ^
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Medicine, 2002
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry, 1994
  • Full Name

  • Yong Zhou