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.
- PhD, Psychology, University of Michigan, 2008
- M.A., Statistics, University of Michigan, 2006
- B.S., Psychology, Peking University, 2003
Research Interests & Projects
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.
- Liu J, Zhao W, Ammous F, Turner ST, Mosley TH, Zhou X, Smith JA. Longitudinal analysis of epigenome-wide DNA methylation reveals novel smoking-related loci in African Americans. Epigenetics. 2019 Feb 14: 1-14. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 30764717
- Liu M, Jiang Y, Wedow R et al (including Zhao W). Association studies of up to 1.2 million individuals yield new insights in the genetic etiology of tobacco and alcohol use. Nat Genet. 2019 Feb; 51(2): 237-244. PMID: 30643251
- Liu J, Zhao W, Ware EB, Turner ST, Mosley TH, Smith JA. DNA methylation in the APOE genomic region is associated with cognitive function in African Americans. BMC Med Genomics. 2018 May 8; 11(1):43. PMID: 29739406
- Zhao W, Ware EB, He Z, Kardia SLR, Faul JD, Smith JA. Interaction between social/psychosocial factors and genetic variants on body mass index: a gene-environment interaction analysis in a longitudinal setting. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Sep 29;14(10). PMID: 28961216
- Zhao W, Smith JA, Mao G, Fornage M, Peyser PA, Sun YV, Turner ST, Kardia SL. The cis and trans effect of the Rick Variants of Coronary Artery Disease in the Chr9p21 Region. BMC Med Genomics. 2015 May 10;8:21. PMID: 25958224
- International Genetic Epidemiology Society
- The American Society of Human Genetics