Faculty Profile

Wei  Zhao, PhD

Wei Zhao, PhD

Assistant Research Scientist
  • 2663 SPH Tower
  • 1415 Washington Heights
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029

Dr. Zhao received her master’s degree in Statistics and doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Afterwards, she joined the Department of Epidemiology and began conducting research on the genetic effects on complex human diseases. She has extensive collaborative ties with national and international research teams that have led to nearly 100 research projects that have identified genetic risk factors for an array of diseases and traits including cardiovascular disease, cognitive function and decline, and their risk factors. Her expertise includes the development of efficient and effective pipelines and algorithms to integrate genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics and the social environment in a “big data” computing environment.

PUBHLTH 311/EPID 511: Introduction to Public Health Genetics

  • PhD, Psychology, University of Michigan, 2008
  • M.A., Statistics, University of Michigan, 2006
  • B.S., Psychology, Peking University, 2003

My research aims to identify genetic risk factors leading to human complex diseases and their risk factors. The health outcome I am interested in includes obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, cognitive decline and dementia, depression and addiction. I am using multi-omics approach to integrate genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics to understand the genetic etiology of the health outcome. I am also interested in how social environment interact with the genome to influence disease risk.

  • Zhao W, Smith JA, Yu M, Crandall CJ, Thurston RC, Hood MM, Ruiz-Narvaez E, Peyser PA, Kardia SLR, Harlow SD. Genetic variants predictive of reproductive aging are associated with vasomotor symptoms in a multiracial/ethnic cohort. Menopause. 2021 Apr 26. PMID: 33906203
  • Zhao W, Smith JA, Bielak LF, Ruiz-Narvaez EA, Yu M, Hood MM, Peyser PA, Kardia SLR, Harlow SD. Associations between polygenic risk score for age at menoarche and menopause, reproductive timing, and serum hormone levels in multiple race/ethnic groups. Menopause. 2021 Apr 19. PMID: 33878091
  • Smith JA*, Zhao W*, Yu M, Rumfelt KE, Mooorjani P, Ganna A, Dey AB, Lee J, Kardia SLR. Association between episodic memory and genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease in South Asians from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India – Diagnostic Assessment of Dementia (LASI-DAD). J Am Geriatr Soc. 2020 Aug; 68 Suppl 3 (Suppl 3): S45-S53. PMID: 32815605 (* authors share the first authorship)
  • Smith JA, Raisky J, Ratliff SM, Liu J, Kardia SLR, Turner ST, Mosley TH, Zhao W. Intrinsic and extrinsic epigenetic age acceleration are associated with hypertensive target organ damage in older African Americans. BMC Med Genomics. 2019 Oct 22; 12(1):141.PMID: 31640709
  • Zhao W, Ammous F, Ratliff S, Liu J, Yu M, Mosley TH, Kardia SLR, Smith JA. Education and lifestyle factors are associated with DNA methylation clocks in older African American. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019 Aug 28; 16 (17) PMID:31466396

  • International Genetic Epidemiology Society
  • The American Society of Human Genetics
  • The Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment