WeiWei Zhang, Ph.D
Next generation sequencing (NGS), also known as high throughput sequencing, or massively parallel sequencing, has dramatically changed the way scientists extract genetic information from biological systems. The technology helps us to develop great insight into the abnormalities affecting the genome, transcriptome and epigenome through DNA sequencing of genomic DNA, cDNA and bisulfite treated DNA with cheaper cost. NGS allows us to discover point mutations, as well as structural alterations such as indels, inversion and translocations that contribute to diseases. Sequencing of the transcriptome provides us the capability to identify changes of gene expression, alternative splicing, gene fusions, mutations and non-coding RNA species. Sequencing after Bisulfite treatment can be used to determine the global cytosine methylation status of DNA.
Most of Dr. Zhang’s research is focused on detection of large-scale genetic abnormalities in lymphoid malignancies using NGS. She has designed several pipelines for multiple lymphoma projects, including mutation detection, gene expression analysis, fusion gene detection, T-cell clonality assessment, and DNA copy number analysis in various sample types such as frozen fresh tissue samples, FFPE tissue samples, or cell-free DNA.
In the follicular lymphoma project, Dr. Zhang developed a mutational analysis pipeline that is able to confidently identify somatic mutations without paired normal control DNA. By using the pipeline, we have successfully detected genes more frequently mutated in transformed follicular lymphoma cases. The recurrently mutated genes are often involved in epigenetic regulation, the JAK-STAT or the NF-κB pathway, immune surveillance, and cell cycle regulation, or are transcription factors involved in B-cell development.
She has also designed several pipelines for the T-cell lymphoma project. The pipelines involved use WES, whole genome sequencing, and amplicon sequencing data to detect somatic mutation and use whole transcriptome sequencing to identify novel gene fusions and differential gene expression.
Dr. Zhang’s goal is to develop analysis methods for the research laboratory and employ them in the clinical laboratory setting.
Other than cancer research, she is interested in following cutting-edge technologies and trying to adopt them to her work.