Dr Jie Zhang

PhD, BSc (Hons)

Biography

Dr Jie Zhang is a translational vision scientist who is using her background in biomedical sciences to devise treatments for ophthalmic conditions. Her research focuses on corneal regeneration using scaffolds and cells, and has additional interests in the relationship between connexin43 channel function and retina and optic nerve diseases such as central retinal artery occlusion and glaucoma. She is currently investigating the use of adult stem cells for corneal endothelial regeneration. Her team has successfully established an explant culture protocol for the human Transition Zone, and demonstrated that Transition Zone cells can proliferate and differentiate into cells that resemble corneal endothelial cells. The goal is to develop Transition Zone cell and graft therapy as effective treatments for those suffering from corneal blindness due to endothelial diseases.

 

She has produced 36 publications including 28 peer-reviewed journal articles and 2 book chapters, 3 patents, and 3 non-indexed professional publications. Forty-two percent of her work was published in the top 10% cited journals in the field (CiteScore). She has published in high impact factor journals such as Progress in Retinal and Eye Research (Impact Factor (IF) 11.6, ranked 1/59 in Ophthalmology), Brain (IF 10.3, ranked 4/194 in Clinical Neurology), Drug Discovery Today (IF 6.4), ‘Neurotherapeutics’ (IF 5.7), Journal of Molecular Medicine (IF 4.9), and Experimental Neurology (IF 4.6).

 

She has secured more than $1.8 million funding in total, including $1.2 million of funding as a principal investigator, and a further $643k as a co-investigator. As a principal investigator, Jie received a Health Research Council Emerging Researcher First Grant and a Marsden Fast-Start Grant. She has also received funder from the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust, the Save Sight Society, Sir John Logan Campbell Trust, University of Auckland Uniservices, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Sir John Logan Campbell Trust, University of Auckland FMHS PBRF fund, and the International Society for Eye Research. She is recently awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship to support her transition zone cell work for cornel endothelial regeneration.

Research | Current

Current research projects:

1. Corneal stromal regeneration using biocompatible scaffolds. Her team has synthesized a scaffold that has high transparency, high mechanical strength, and is supportive of corneal epithelial and keratocyte growth. Pre-clinical trials are underway, with clinical application as the end goal.

2.  Corneal endothelial regeneration using adult stem cells in the corneal 'Transition Zone'. Her team has successfully established an explant culture protocol for the human Transition Zone, and demonstrated that Transition Zone cells can proliferate and differentiate into cells that resemble corneal endothelial cells in culture. Her current goal is to explore the potential of Transition Zone cells and grafts to be developed into timely and effective treatments for those suffering from corneal blindness due to endothelial diseases.

3. The relationship between connexin43 channel function and retina and optic nerve diseases such as central retinal artery occlusion and glaucoma. So far, their work in the retinal and optic nerve injury field has led to the suggestion that vascular dysfunction due to gap junction hemichannel opening precedes retinal neuron loss, and re-thinking of the mechanism of glaucoma injury and treatment. 

4. Exploring the anatomy and function of penguin eyes, in order to understand what and how they see on land, under water, and in deep dives. The findings will help in eye pathology diagnosis and treatment, and aid conservation of penguins in New Zealand.

Teaching | Current

1. The basics of literature searching and scientific writing. Ophthalmic technology course.

2. Eye anatomy and function. Ophthalmology 5th year teaching program. 

3. Visual Illusions / Physiology and Anatomy of the Eye. MBChB 301 Special Senses - Ophthalmology Course, Vision Practical Session.

4. Anatomy of the eye practical session - NURSPRAC 716 - Masters of Health and Nursing.

Postgraduate supervision

2019-  Peter Hadden. The Anatomy and Physiology of the Penguin Eye and Ocular Adnexae. PhD joint-supervisor.

2019   Jane Shi (completed). Characterisation of adult stem cells for the corneal endothelium. Honours co-supervisor.

2018 Hannah Ng (completed). Bioengineering Transition Zone Stem Cells into Corneal Endothelial Sheets for Transplantation. Honours co-supervisor. *Thesis marked A+ by examiner. First runner-up, HealtheX Three Minute Elevator Pitch competition, 2018.

2018-  Mohammed Ziaei (completed). Novel treatment options for the treatment of corneal disease. MD co-supervisor.

2016-  Ellen Wang (completed). Corneal nerve plexus in radiotherapy treatment. PhD advisor.

2015-18 Odunayo (Lola) Rotimi (completed). Vascular breakdown in diabetic retinopathy: The role of connexins and possible interventions. PhD co-supervisor. * Thesis placed on Dean’s List for Excellence 2018, recommended for Vice Chancellor’s best thesis award.

2011-19 Eight summer students

Distinctions/Honours

2019   Awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship

2016   Principle investigator of a Marsden Fast Start Grant to investigate ‘Determining the potential of the corneal Transition Zone as corneal endothelial transplants’

2016   Principle investigator of Health Research Council Emerging Researcher First Grant to investigate ‘The transition zone as corneal endothelial transplants’

2013   Co-investigator of Professor Dipika Patel’s prestigious Health Research Council Clinical Practitioner Research Fellowship to investigate ‘A novel biosynthetic tissue substitute for transplantation’

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Member of the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethic Committee

Section editor, Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology

Consulting editor, Clinical Ophthalmology, Dove Press

Reviewer for the Health Research Council of New Zealand, UitZicht of the Netherlands, the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia, and the Joan Ready Ophthalmology Research Fund 

Reviewer for multiple international journals

Organiser of scientific sessions for the the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress

Co-chair of the grants committee, FMHS PDS society

Independent chair of PhD oral examinations at the University of Auckland

Judge for HealtheX – Celebrating student research

Academic staff representative in University of Auckland Graduation Ceremonies

Examination Committee member for postgraduate students in the Department of Ophthalmology

 

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Goh, Y. W., McGhee, C. N. J., & Zhang, J. (2020). Macroscopic and histopathologic analyses of a subluxated intraocular lens in a severely contracted capsular bag. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology10.1111/ceo.13825
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee
  • Zhang, J., Ahmad, A. M., Ng, H., Shi, J., McGhee, C. N. J., & Patel, D. V. (2020). Successful culture of human transition zone cells. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 48 (5), 689-700. 10.1111/ceo.13756
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dipika Patel, Charles McGhee
  • McGhee, C. N. J., & Zhang, J. (2020). Conserving, restoring and replacing the human corneal endothelium in 2020: is a clear future here today?. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 48 (2), 155-157. 10.1111/ceo.13738
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee
  • Tyler, E. F., Misra, S. L., McGhee, C. N. J., & Zhang, J. (2020). Corneal nerve plexus changes induced by Oxaliplatin chemotherapy and Ergothioneine antioxidant supplementation. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 48 (2), 264-266. 10.1111/ceo.13685
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee, Stuti Misra
  • Zhang, J., Crimmins, D., Faed, J. M., Flanagan, P., McGhee, C. N. J., & Patel, D. (2020). Characteristics of Platelet Lysate Compared to Autologous and Allogeneic Serum Eye Drops. TRANSLATIONAL VISION SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. (pp. 9). 10.1167/tvst.9.4.24
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee, Dipika Patel
  • McGhee, C. N. J., Zhang, J., & Patel, D. V. (2020). A perspective of contemporary cataract surgery: the most common surgical procedure in the world. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND, 50 (2), 245-262. 10.1080/03036758.2020.1714673
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dipika Patel, Charles McGhee
  • Shi, J., Han, J. V., McGhee, C. N. J., & Zhang, J. (2020). Vision threatening uveitis-glaucoma-hyphaema syndrome: An uncommon but continuing concern in the 21st century. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 48 (1), 127-130. 10.1111/ceo.13655
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee
  • Hadden, P. W., Gerneke, D. A., Mcghee, C. N. J., & Zhang, J. (2020). Micro-computed tomography orbital anatomy of the little blue or fairy penguin, Eudyptula minor. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 48 (1), 130-131. 10.1111/ceo.13620
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee, Dane Gerneke

Identifiers

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 504 - Bldg 504
Level 4, Room 420
85 PARK RD
GRAFTON
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

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