Ye Zheng is associate professor in the NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (US).
Zheng received a BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from Peking University (China) and a PhD from Columbia University (US). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington (US) and a research scholar at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cancer Research Institute from 2005-2008 and was a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar from 2010-2015.
Zheng’s research focuses on a specialized set of immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs) that act to balance and maintain a healthy immune system. Tregs control the immune response, telling the more aggressive immune cells when to stop their frenzied attack. Abnormal Treg function has been linked to a number of autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus and multiple sclerosis. A key molecular component of these cells, a protein called Foxp3, is often responsible for deficient Tregs. Zheng is making advances in understanding the genes that control Foxp3—as well as genes that Foxp3 controls—to ultimately lead to ways to manage Treg function. Since manipulations of Tregs can either weaken or strengthen the immune response, his findings can potentially open new avenues in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, improve organ transplant survival and uncover new cancer targets.