Headshot of Chunzhang Yang

Chunzhang Yang, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Neuro-Oncology Branch


Dr. Chunzhang Yang studies the genetic and molecular basis of brain tumors, and leads the Molecular and Cell Biology Research Program at the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB). The goal of his research is to understand the vulnerabilities of brain tumors and identify biological signatures—which can be used to generate experimental therapeutics that improve the current standard of care for patients. 

His lab utilizes cutting-edge molecular biology techniques and state-of-the-art preclinical models to understand the essential molecular pathways in brain tumors. He also conducts mechanistic studies on these key pathways, which could be inhibited in brain tumors to elicit more cell death, improve disease outcomes, and diminish therapeutic resistance. The primary approaches that Dr. Yang’s team uses include functional analysis of cancer biology, identification of actionable therapeutic targets, and development of experimental therapeutics for next step clinical application. 

Explore the NOB's Research Programs >

Areas of Expertise


Selected Key Publications

Abrogation of the G2/M checkpoint as a chemo sensitization approach for alkylating agents

Lang F, Cornwell JA, Kaur K, Elmogazy O, Zhang W, Zhang M, Song H, Sun Z, Wu X, Aladjem MI, Aregger M, Cappell SD, Yang C
Neuro Oncology. 2023.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) protects IDH-mutated glioma from ferroptosis via Nrf2

Liu Y, Chou FJ, Lang F, Zhang M, Song H, Zhang W, Davis DL, Briceno NJ, Zhang Y, Cimino PJ, Zaghloul KA, Gilbert MR, Armstrong TS, Yang C
Clin. Cancer Res.. In Press: 2023.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Triptolide suppresses IDH1-mutated malignancy via Nrf2-driven glutathione metabolism

Yu D, Liu Y, Zhou Y, Ruiz-Rodado V, Larion M, Xu G, Yang C
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. . 117(18): 9964-9972, 2020.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Targeting IDH1-Mutated Malignancies with NRF2 Blockade

Liu Y, Lu Y, Celiku O, Li A, Wu Q, Zhou Y, Yang C
J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 111(10): 1033-1041, 2019.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Somatic HIF2A gain-of-function mutations in paraganglioma with polycythemia

Zhuang Z, *Yang C, Lorenzo F, Merino M, Fojo T, Kebebew E, Popovic V, Stratakis CA, Prchal JT, Pacak K (*Co-first author)
N Engl J Med. 367(10): 922-930, 2012.
Full-Text Article
[ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

We have no open positions in our group at this time, please check back later.

To see all available positions at CCR, take a look at our Careers page. You can also subscribe to receive CCR's latest job and training opportunities in your inbox.


Visiting Fellow
Fengchao Lang, Ph.D.
Visiting Fellow
Karambir Lnu, Ph.D.
Visiting Fellow
Liang Liu, M.D., Ph.D.
Visiting Fellow
Javeria Zaheer, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Diego Luis Ribeiro, Ph.D.


Microscopy images showing cell cycle progression for cells treated with RP-6306 alone, TMZ alone, and a combination of TMZ and RP-6306.

New Drug Enhances Chemotherapy to Control Glioblastoma Cell Growth and Target Treatment Resistance

February 12, 2024

This drug disrupts cell cycle timing in brain tumor cells and makes them more vulnerable to chemotherapy, which improves survival in preclinical models. Read more >

Microscopy image of glioma cells from the researchers’ preclinical mouse model.

New Study Decodes the Genetics of Brain Tumors to Develop More Precise Therapies

February 27, 2023

Cancer researchers have identified an effective treatment in mouse models for targeting gliomas carrying genetic abnormalities known as IDH mutations. Read more >

Glioma cell in motion

Exploiting Brain Cancer Cells’ Vulnerabilities to Combat Treatment Resistance

As head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Program, Dr. Chunzhang Yang investigates whether genetic mutations in cancer cells could serve as therapeutic targets. Read more >

Dr. Chunzhang Yang and Dr. Yang Liu

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

January 31, 2020

We celebrate our impactful mentors in the Neuro-Oncology Branch for National Mentoring Month. Our postdoctoral fellows share their love for science and how their mentors have made their experience at NIH more rewarding. Read more >

Nanoparticles in brain metastases

New Strategy for Treating Brain Tumors with Mutations in Metabolic Enzymes 

February 20, 2019

Dr. Chunzhang Yang and his team uncovered the molecular effects of IDH mutations in gliomas, including stress, reactive oxygen species and changes in a protein named NRF2. Read more >

PARP enzymes help repair damaged DNA. PARP inhibitors block this repair mechanism, causing some cancer cells to die.

PARP Inhibitors May be Effective in Brain, Other Cancers with IDH Mutations 

April 24, 2017

Two separate studies revealed insights into the function of genetic mutations commonly found in a form of brain cancer—and, in the process, identified a potential new treatment strategy. Read more >