M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest
Baptist Medical Center, has been
named the second Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar. The Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars
Program accelerates innovative research at the Medical Center and at Wake
Zhao, a highly accomplished scientist with a strong
research program in brain tumor-targeted nanoplatform research, has a joint
appointment in cancer biology and membership in Wake Forest Baptist’s
Comprehensive Cancer Center. He joined Wake Forest Baptist in September after
serving on the graduate school faculty in biomedical engineering at the University
of Texas-Southwestern and the University of Texas-Dallas.
During his distinguished academic career, Zhao has
published widely in his areas of research, which include: the development of
brain tumor-targeted nanodelivery system for multimodal molecular imaging and
treatment; in vivo imaging of tumor microenvironment; and the investigation of
genetic and epigenetic factors associated with tumor aggressiveness by
correlating molecular and immunohistological study with in vivo imaging.
“Dr. Zhao’s work in nanotherapeutics, medicine at
the molecular scale, aims at developing imaging techniques to ensure that a
drug is delivered precisely to its target. He is a very important addition to
our research in biomedical engineering and in cancer. He has an exceptional
record as a scientist, as evidenced by his current and previous research
projects, innovation and productivity,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of Wake
Forest School of Medicine.
Zhao’s research involves the development of
image-guided brain cancer-targeted nanotherapeutics and imaging techniques that
monitor drug distribution after systemic administration.
The Wells Fargo Foundation established the Faculty
Scholars Program in 2011 with a $2.5 million grant. The program funds the
recruitment of faculty whose research shows promise for generating significant
intellectual property and regionally based commercialization efforts as either
start-up or spin-off companies.
“We are pleased to support Dr. Zhao and Wake Forest
Baptist Medical Center,” said Juan Austin, senior vice president of the Wells
Fargo Foundation. “His innovative research demonstrates the attributes and
promise of the Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar Endowment, through which we
demonstrate our strong commitment to our role in sustaining economic vitality
in this region and this state.”
Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars may have appointments
at Wake Forest University, Wake Forest Baptist or both institutions, and will
likely conduct a portion of their research at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
The endowment helps cover the recruitment, salary, benefits, laboratory equipment,
research and travel costs associated with the scholar’s work.
Zhao will contribute to teaching and education at
Wake Forest and Virginia Tech through the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University
School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.
Zhao’s appointment as the Wells Fargo Faculty
Scholar was determined by an eight-person committee that included faculty from
both Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist and King Li, M.D., senior associate
dean for clinical and translational research and the inaugural Wells Fargo