Chongben (Ben) Zhang, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow

I am strongly interested in metabolic disease-related studies including insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. Imbalance between food intake and energy expenditure, which leads to fat accumulation in the body, is generally the etiology of these metabolic diseases, and all the efforts in trying to combat the impaired lipid metabolism will be potentially therapeutic. However, these efforts may not always have positive impact due to our incomplete understanding of the etiology of the disease. For example, lipid mobilization is good in providing the body with fuels, and enhancing adipocyte lipolysis may help reduce obesity, but lipolysis can result in excessive accumulation of FFA in the circulation leading to insulin resistance. Another example is that it was thought that enhanced fatty acid oxidation improves insulin action in the liver, but it has negative impact on muscle tissues. So it is really challenging……. I once believed that the ultimate solution for the metabolic diseases was appetite control, but this may be even more difficult.

The harder it is, the more it is worth. For the past decade I have been working on the molecular and cellular mechanism of pathogenesis of metabolic diseases, and seeking anti-obesity substances. We once found the positive correlation between adipose fatty acid synthase (FAS) activity and body weight (fat content) in mice. We once used FAS and PPARγ as targets to screen active components from Chinese traditional herbal medicines. Some molecules including emodin were identified to inhibit FAS activity and PPARγ expression in vitro and in vivo, and a Chinese herbal medicine formula named “Tingmei Weight-loss Capsule” was developed. Later, Sibutramine and Orlistat, the two anti-obesity drugs were approved by FDA.

Currently, I am mainly working on understanding how fat tissue gets the requisition to produce more adipocytes and (or) more preadipocytes, which may be a major factor contributing to the development of obesity. Our hypothesis is that the post-translational regulation of adipogenic transcriptional factor PPARγ, which is necessary and sufficient for adipogenic differentiation, plays important roles modulating adipogenic potentials throughout the life span of mammals. Specifically, we are employing both in vitro and in vivo models to examine PPARγ stabilities under different conditions and to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying these regulations.

Finally, I love every kind of exercises, with particular interests in basketball and running. Come over and join us! Do exercise, feel happy, and be healthy!



Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail:

1. Zhang C*, Yoon MS, Chen J. Amino acid-sensing mTOR signaling is involved in modulation of lipolysis by chronic insulin treatment in adipocytes. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print] *correspondence author
2. Sun Y, Fang Y, Yoon MS, Zhang C, Roccio M, Zwartkruis FJ, Armstrong M, Brown HA, Chen J. Phospholipase D1 is an effector of Rheb in the mTOR pathway. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jun 17;105(24):8286-91
3. Wu AL, Kim JH, Zhang C, Unterman TG, Chen J. Forkhead box protein O1 negatively regulates skeletal myocyte differentiation through degradation of mammalian target of rapamycin pathway components. Endocrinology. 2008 Mar;149(3):1407-14
4. ZHANG Chongben ZHANG Xiaolan LI Chengjian Cheng Junying Wu Xianrong?The labeling of mouse 3T3?L1 preadipocyte line as a model for investigating adipocyte differentiation and for screening anti-obesity and anti-diabetes drugs. Chinese Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2004, 20: (5)583-586
5. TENG Lu, CHENG Junying YANG Yang, ZHANG Chongben, Establishing a mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell line carrying a fluorescent undifferentiated marker?Acta Genetica Sinica?2004, 31:(10)1061-1065
6. L I Chengjian CHENG Junying ZHANG Xiaolan ZHANG Chongben?The labeling of 3T3-L1 preadipocyte cells with enhanced green fluorescent protein. Chinese Journal of biotechnology?2004, 20:(4); 607-609
7. Teng Lu, ZHANG Chongben, Shang Kegang, and Gu Jun The Labeling of C57BL/6j Derived ES Cells with EGFP Chinese Medical Journal 2003; 116(1):151-153
8. ZHANG Chongben, Teng Lu, Shiyan, Xue Youfang, Shang Kegang and Gu Jun Effects of emodin on proliferation and differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and activities of FAS in vitro, Chinese Medical Journal, 2002; 115(7):1035-1038.
9. ZHANG Chongben and Wu Xian-rong The isolation and properties identification on the 2S fraction of Chinese soybean globulins Chinese Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1991) 7(2):230-236

Review papers
1 ZHANG Chongben, Wu Heling The genetics of human monogenic obesity. Acta Genetica Sinica (2004)31(8):864-869
2 ZHANG Chongben The appetite and body weight regulation mediated by leptin. Chemistry of Life (2004) 24(3):274-275
3 ZHANG Chongben Adipocyte differentiation and regulation. Progress in physiology, 2004, 35(1):7-12