Dr Jie Zhang
PhD, BSc (Hons)
Jie 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 has produced 28 publications including 20 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 $1.1 million funding in total, including $480k 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, UOA Uniservices, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Sir John Logan Campbell Trust, UOA FMHS PBRF fund, and the International Society for Eye Research.
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 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. Penguin eye anatomy and physiology.
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.
2019- Peter Hadden. The Anatomy and Physiology of the Penguin Eye and Ocular Adnexae. PhD joint-supervisor.
2019 Jane Shi (current). 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 (current). 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.
2011-18 Seven summer students
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’
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
Chair of the communications committee, FMHS PDS society
Independent chair of PhD oral examinations at the University of Auckland
Judge for HealtheX – Celebrating student research
Scientist in LENS-Science meet-a-scientist program
Academic staff representative in University of Auckland Graduation Ceremonies
Examination Committee member for postgraduate students in the Department of Ophthalmology
University of Auckland representative for Kelston Girl’s College Prize Giving
Judge for Manuka Science Fair (Mission Height Junior College)
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Zhu, M., Tay, M. L., Callon, K., Tuari, D., Zhao, L., Dray, M., ... Young, S. (2019). Overlay repair with a synthetic collagen scaffold improves the quality of healing in a rat rotator cuff repair model. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery, 28 (5), 949-958. 10.1016/j.jse.2018.11.044
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mei Lin Tay, Karen Callon, Nicola Dalbeth, Dipika Patel, Jillian Cornish, David Musson, Jacob Munro
- Patel, D. V., Zhang, J., & McGhee, C. N. (2019). In vivo confocal microscopy of the inflamed anterior segment: A review of clinical and research applications. Clinical & experimental ophthalmology, 47 (3), 334-345. 10.1111/ceo.13512
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dipika Patel, Charles McGhee
- Zhang, J., McGhee, C. N. J., & Patel, D. V. (2019). The Molecular Basis of Fuchs' Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy. Molecular diagnosis & therapy, 23 (1), 97-112. 10.1007/s40291-018-0379-z
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee, Dipika Patel
- Mugisho, O. O., Green, C. R., Squirrell, D. M., Bould, S., Danesh-Meyer, H. V., Zhang, J., ... Rupenthal, I. D. (2019). Connexin43 hemichannel block protects against the development of diabetic retinopathy signs in a mouse model of the disease. Journal of molecular medicine (Berlin, Germany), 97 (2), 215-229. 10.1007/s00109-018-1727-5
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Colin Green, Helen Danesh-Meyer, Monica Acosta, Ilva Rupenthal, Lola Mugisho
- Mugisho, O. O., Green, C. R., Zhang, J., Acosta, M. L., & Rupenthal, I. D. (2019). Connexin43 hemichannels: A potential drug target for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Drug discovery today10.1016/j.drudis.2019.01.011
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Colin Green, Ilva Rupenthal, Monica Acosta, Lola Mugisho
- Mugisho, O. O., Green, C. R., Squirrell, D., Bould, S., Zhang, J., Acosta, M., & Rupenthal, I. D. (2018). Intravitreal pro-inflammatory cytokines induce signs of diabetic retinopathy in non-obese diabetic mice. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Association-for-Research-in-Vision-and-Ophthalmology (ARVO), Honolulu, HI. 29 April - 3 May 2018. INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE. (pp. 3).
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ilva Rupenthal, Colin Green, Monica Acosta
- Zhang, J., Ahmad, A. M., McGhee, C. N., & Patel, D. V. (2018). Characterisation of corneal transition zone explant cultures. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Association-for-Research-in-Vision-and-Ophthalmology (ARVO), Honolulu, HI. 29 April - 3 May 2018. INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE. (pp. 2).
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Charles McGhee, Dipika Patel
- Mugisho, O. O., Green, C. R., Kho, D. T., Zhang, J., Graham, E. S., Acosta, M. L., & Rupenthal, I. D. (2018). The inflammasome pathway is amplified and perpetuated in an autocrine manner through connexin43 hemichannel mediated ATP release. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects, 1862 (3), 385-393. 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.11.015
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ilva Rupenthal, Colin Green, Monica Acosta, Lola Mugisho, Scott Graham