D (Deli) Zhang

D (Deli) Zhang

Assistant professor

My long term goal is to prevent and reduce suffering from human cardiac diseases during ageing.

I have a strong focus on transnational research in cardiac heath and a deep motivation in creating and applying novel, cutting-edge technology to human health. In particular, I combine my educational background in molecular genetics (MSc, Sun-Yat Sun University), experimental pharmacology (PhD with distinction cum laude,  University Medical Center Groningen), physiology (Postdoc, Amsterdam UMC location VUmc) with nutrition and (mitochondrial) metabolism (Human and Animal Physiology, Wageningen University), making the perfect combination to achieve my long-term goal.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common ageing-related arrhythmia, which is associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality. Over 98% of AF is caused by risk factors including ageing, diabetes, obesity, ischemia and environmental insults. The goal of my current research is to clarify the mechanistic causal links between these risk factors and the pathogenesis of cardiac arrhythmias, in order to develop novel intervention targets to prevent AF. Therefore, my current research line focuses on investigating novel molecular mechanisms by which risk factors promote arrhythmogenesis underlying AF.

Research Arrhythmias can result from abnormal intracellular calcium handling. Emerging evidence suggests that risk factors of AF can modify calcium handling proteins by disturbing the mitochondrial redox homeostasis. Currently, my research is focusing on two 1 ) role of mitochondrial and SR contacts (SMC) in AF pathogenesis and 2) the role of mitochondrial oxidative stress in cardiac arrhythmia. We employ multidisciplinary approaches including electrophysiological studies, biochemical and molecular biological studies, high-resolution and high-speed imaging, bioinformatics analyses, and transcriptomics studies, etc. and utilize cellular, genetically engineered drosophila and mouse models as well as human cardiac samples in our research projects.

This research line is mainly funded by research grants from Dutch heart foundation and Dutch Research Council (NWO-VENI). Some team members also received the fellowship from Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC).