Yun-Ling Zheng, PhD, MPH

Cancer Geneticist/Molecular Epidemiologist

Yun-Ling Zheng

Yun-Ling Zheng, MD, PhD, is an cancer molecular epidemiologist who specializes in telomere biology and cancer biomarkers. With a focus on cancer risk factors, she studies the role of telomere health in aging and cancer, and develops biomarkers for the identification of populations at high risk of developing cancer.

Dr. Zheng has participated and led several large case-control studies that are designed to understand the role of gene-environmental interactions in cancer, including NCI-UMD Lung Cancer Study, Egypt Bladder Cancer Study. She is the PI of GUMC Breast Cancer Study that is designed to examine the relationship between telomere health and breast cancer risk. Dr. Zheng is also the PI of a NIH R01 funded project that examines telomere dysfunction, chromosome 9 instability and bladder cancer risk.

As the Chief of Laboratory of Telomere Health at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, much of Dr. Zheng’s research focuses on the deterioration of telomere regulation and health in relation to cancer and aging-related conditions. Telomeres are specialized nucleoprotein structures at the end of eukaryotic chromosomes and are essential for maintaining genome integrity. Dr. Zheng’s laboratory uses innovative approaches to assess telomere health for each chromosomal end and has made significant new discoveries that telomere deficiencies on certain chromosomal ends are strong risk factors for breast cancer. This work also led to the discovery that high telomere length variation among chromosomal ends is a significant risk factor for multiple cancers.