Center for Translational Biomedical Research

Zhang Research Group

Research Focus

Disease Biomarkers and Analytical Biochemistry

Qibin Zhang, Ph.D.
CTBR Co-Director, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Tel: 704-250-5803
Chemistry website:


Dr. Zhang is primarily interested in the diagnosis and prognosis of human diseases and the effects of environment on health. The Zhang research group focuses on developing new capabilities for more accurate, more sensitive and higher throughput measurement of biomolecules, and the clinical application of proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics for comprehensive identification of disease biomarkers, and systems biological understanding of the pathogenic mechanism underlying the complex human diseases.  Our research could lead to clinical assays for early diagnosis of human diseases, and effective intervention and prevention strategies for better human health. Below are the brief descriptions of our research projects.

Development of Bioanalytical Capabilities

The specific functions of lipids, biomolecules with important roles in many human disorders such as cancer and diabetes, are related to their chemical and physical properties and depend on their particular molecular structures.  We are developing a mass spectrometry based instrument platform that incorporates ozone induced dissociation (OzID) for unambiguous and comprehensive elucidation of lipid chemical structures, and high resolution field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) technology for enhanced specificity in distinguishing lipid isomers. The resulting instrument platform is expected to have broad applications in structural identification of intact lipids and aid the unambiguous identification of lipid biomarkers of diseases, and will improve our understanding of the functional roles of diverse lipids in the disease process.

In addition, we are interested in the following technology development and the new biology that are enabled by these new capabilities:

  • Developing high throughput, quantitative methods for characterization of oligosaccharides, and saccharolipids (fatty acids linked to sugars).
  • Developing chemical- and antibody-based methods for quantitative characterization of novel protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) and proteoforms that are important to human diseases.

Biomarkers for Human Diseases

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), a devastating disorder that primarily impacts children, results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. At the time of clinical diagnosis, more than 80% of beta cells have died, and novel biomarkers are greatly in need to indicate this destruction process at the earliest possible stage. We are funded by the NIH for a comprehensive identification of biomarkers correlated to the progression of this disease, through proteomic, lipidomic, and metabolomic characterization of human pancreatic tissues and longitudinally collected serum samples, as well as for a comprehensive validation of the candidate markers in diseases that share similar clinical and immunological outcomes with T1D.  The results not only can help to establish early diagnosis and risk assessment criteria for T1D, but also help to understand the pathogenesis of this disorder when combined with mechanistic studies using cell line and animal models.

The approach that we take for diabetes research can be applied to biomarkers research of other diseases.

Students and postdocs working in the Zhang research group have access to state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation (including a Thermo QExactive HF and a Thermo TSQ Quantiva interfaced with FAIMS, nano-LC and UPLC, and a Leco GC-TOF), bioinformatics and statistics tools, and are exposed to a variety of other experimental techniques including biochemistry, physical chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry depending upon their research interests.

Current Members

Dr. Guan-Yuan Chen, Research Scientist

Dr. Tai-Du Lin, Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Jongmin Woo, Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Sudhir Putty Reddy ,Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Arvind Korwar, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ms. Ngoc Vu, Graduate Student, PhD Program

Mr. Rodell Barrientos, Graduate Student, PhD Program

Recent Publications

  1. Zhang, L., Liu, C. W., and Zhang, Q. (2018) Online 2D-LC-MS/MS Platform for Analysis of Glycated Proteome, Anal Chem 90, 1081-1086.
  2. Liu, C. W., Bramer, L., Webb-Robertson, B. J., Waugh, K., Rewers, M. J., and Zhang, Q. (2018) Temporal expression profiling of plasma proteins reveals oxidative stress in early stages of Type 1 Diabetes progression, J Proteomics 172, 100-110.
  3. Barrientos, R. C., and Zhang, Q. (2018) Isobaric Labeling of Intact Gangliosides toward Multiplexed LC-MS/MS-Based Quantitative Analysis, Anal Chem 90, 2578-2586.
  4. Zhang, L., Lanzoni, G., Battarra, M., Inverardi, L., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Proteomic profiling of human islets collected from frozen pancreata using laser capture microdissection, J Proteomics 150, 149-159.
  5. Vu, N., Brown, J., Giles, K., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Ozone-induced dissociation on a traveling wave high-resolution mass spectrometer for determination of double-bond position in lipids, Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 31, 1415-1423.
  6. Narvaez-Rivas, M., Vu, N., Chen, G. Y., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Off-line mixed-mode liquid chromatography coupled with reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry to improve coverage in lipidomics analysis, Anal Chim Acta 954, 140-150.
  7. Liu, C. W., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Isobaric Labeling-Based LC-MS/MS Strategy for Comprehensive Profiling of Human Pancreatic Tissue Proteome, Methods Mol Biol.
  8. Liu, C. W., Bramer, L., Webb-Robertson, B. J., Waugh, K., Rewers, M. J., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Temporal profiles of plasma proteome during childhood development, J Proteomics 152, 321-328.
  9. Barrientos, R. C., Vu, N., and Zhang, Q. (2017) Structural Analysis of Unsaturated Glycosphingolipids Using Shotgun Ozone-Induced Dissociation Mass Spectrometry, J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 28, 2330-2343.
  10. Narvaez-Rivas, M., and Zhang, Q. (2016) Comprehensive untargeted lipidomic analysis using core-shell C30 particle column and high field orbitrap mass spectrometer, J Chromatogr A 1440, 123-134.
  11. Liu, C. W., Atkinson, M. A., and Zhang, Q. (2016) Type 1 diabetes cadaveric human pancreata exhibit a unique exocrine tissue proteomic profile, Proteomics 16, 1432-1446.