Zhao Laboratory

The Zhao Laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms of endothelial injury and regeneration, resolution of inflammation, and obliterative vascular remodeling in the pathogeneses of sepsis, acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

Recovery of endothelial barrier integrity after vascular injury is vital for endothelial homeostasis and resolution of inflammation. Endothelial dysfunction plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of vascular diseases such as ALI/ARDS and atherosclerosis. A part of the research in the lab, employing genetically modified mouse models of human diseases, endothelial progenitor cells/stem cells, and translational research approach as well as nanotechnology, is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of endothelial regeneration and resolution of inflammatory injury and determine how aging and epigenetics regulate these processes (J. Clin. Invest. 2006, 116: 2333; J. Exp. Med. 2010, 207:1675; Circulation 2016, 133: 2447). We are also studying the role of endothelial cells in regulating macrophage functional polarization and resolving inflammatory lung injury. These studies will identify druggable targets leading to novel therapeutic strategies to activate the intrinsic endothelial regeneration program to restore endothelial barrier integrity and reverse edema formation for the prevention and treatment of ARDS in patients.

Research Topics

Endothelial Dysfunction


YouYang Zhao, PhD
225 East Chicago Ave., Box 220
Chicago, IL 60611

Principal Investigator

Youyang Zhao, PhD

Youyang Zhao, PhD, is an expert in vascular endothelial cell biology. He serves as Director of the Program for Lung and Vascular Biology, and Head of the Section of Injury Repair and Regeneration Research at Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. He is the William G. Swartchild, Jr. Distinguished Research Professor and Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His translational research is focused on lung and vascular biology to delineate the molecular mechanisms of acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, and provide novel therapeutic approaches for these devastating diseases. Dr. Zhao has published many papers in top-tier journals such as Nature Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Circulation, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and Cell Reports. His lab is well-funded with multiple R01 grants. Dr. Zhao is committed to training the next generation of scientists in vascular biology and translational research.