Huiping Zhang, Ph.D.

Orientation and new Faculty Photos

Huiping Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine (Biomedical Genetics)
Boston University School of Medicine




Postdoctoral Research Associate (Human Genetics), Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine
Ph.D. (Psychiatric Genetics), Queen’s University, Canada
M.S. (Medical Immunology), Tongji Medical University, China
B.S. (Biochemistry), Central China Normal University, China

Research Interests

My research goal is to understand the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental illnesses or traits as well as identify genetic and epigenetic biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of diseases. Supported by NIH (NIDA & NIAAA) and Boston University-funded grants, I have been performing several research projects. (1) Study of alcohol use disorders (AUDs): profile transcriptome (mRNA and miRNA) and DNA methylome alterations in postmortem brains of AUD subjects using microarray and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies (mRNA-seq and miRNA-seq) and generate AUD-associated gene expression regulatory networks; verify AUD-associated transcriptome and DNA methylome alterations using drinking-in-the-dark (DID) mice and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived neurons as models; examine the effect of genetic and epigenetic biomarkers on the outcome of AUD treatment using pharmacological agents (e.g., naltrexone); and explore the possibility of using salivary miRNAs as biomarker of AUDs. (2) Study of cocaine use disorders (CUDs): investigate chronic cocaine use-related epigenetic mechanisms behind CUDs using a translational rat model of incubated drug craving (i.e., extended access to cocaine with prolonged abstinence and consequent increased craving) and confirm the hypothesis that cocaine use/withdrawal causes epigenetic changes in the brain’s reward circuit (such as the nucleus accumbens). (3) Study of opioid use disorders (OUDs): examine the association between genetic/epigenetic biomarkers and effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone (XR-NTX) and buprenorphine (BPH) treatment of OUDs in pregnant and postpartum women. (4) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS): Identify genetic variants that are associated with SUDs, obesity, or cognitive flexibility as well as unravel the function of disease-associated genetic variants.

Selected Publications

Wachman E, Wang A, Isley B, Boateng J, Beierle J, Hansbury A, Shrestha H, Bryant C, Zhang H. Placental OPRM1DNA methylation and associations with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, a pilot study. Explor Med. 2020;1:[Online First].

Lin H, Wang F, Rosato AJ, Farrer LA, Henderson DC, Zhang H. Prefrontal cortex eQTLs/mQTLs enriched in genetic variants associated with alcohol use disorder and other diseases. Epigenomics. 2020 June 4. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32496132

Lin Y, Kranzler HR, Farrer LA, Xu H, Henderson DC, Zhang H. An analysis of the effect of mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) promoter region DNA methylation on the response of naltrexone treatment of alcohol dependence. Pharmacogenomics J. 2020 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32029903.

Rosato AJ, Chen X, Tanaka Y, Farrer LA, Kranzler HR, Nunez YZ, Henderson DC, Gelernter J, Zhang H. Salivary microRNAs identified by small RNA sequencing and machine learning as potential biomarkers of alcohol dependence. Epigenomics. 2019; 11(7):739-749.

Zhang H, Zhou H, Lencz T, Farrer LA, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J. Genome-wide association study of cognitive flexibility assessed by the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2018; 177(5):511-519.

Xu H, Wang F, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J, Zhang H. Alcohol and nicotine codependence-associated DNA methylation changes in promoter regions of addiction-related genes.
Scientific Reports. 2017; 7:41816.

Zhang H, Gelernter J. DNA methylation and alcohol use disorders: Progress and challenges. Am J Addict. 2017; 26(5):502-515.

Wang F, Xu H, Zhao H, Gelernter J, Zhang H. DNA co‐methylation modules in postmortem prefrontal cortex tissues of European Australians with alcohol use disorders. Scientific Reports. 2016; 6:19430.

Xiang Y, Kim KY, Gelernter J, Park IH, Zhang H. Ethanol upregulates NMDA receptor subunit gene expression in human embryonic stem cell‐derived cortical neurons. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8):e0134907.

Zhang H, Wang F, Xu H, Liu Y, Liu J, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Differentially co‐expressed genes in postmortem prefrontal cortex of individuals with alcohol use disorders: influence on alcohol metabolism‐related pathways. Hum Genet. 2014; 133(11):1383‐94.

Zhang H, Wang F, Kranzler HR, Yang C, Xu H, Wang Z, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Identification of methylation quantitative trait loci (mQTLs) influencing promoter DNA methylation of alcohol dependence risk genes. Hum Genet. 2014; 133(9):1093‐104.

Xu H, Wang F, Liu Y, Yu Y, Gelernter J, Zhang H. Sex‐biased methylome and transcriptome in human prefrontal cortex. Hum Mol Genet. 2014; 23(5):1260‐70.

Wang F, Gelernter J, Zhang H. Differential Expression of miR‐130a in Postmortem Prefrontal Cortex of Subjects with Alcohol Use Disorders. J Addict Res Ther. 2013; 4(155). pii: 18179.

Li Z, Zhang H. Analyzing Interaction of μ-, δ- and κ-opioid Receptor Gene Variants on Alcohol or Drug Dependence Using a Pattern Discovery-based Method. J Addict Res Ther. 2013; Suppl 7:007.

Zhang H, Wang F, Kranzler HR, Zhao H, Gelernter J. Profiling of childhood adversity‐associated DNA methylation changes in alcoholic patients and healthy controls. PLoS One. 2013; 8(6):e65648.

Wang F, Simen A, Arias A, Lu QW, Zhang H. A large-scale meta-analysis of the association between the ANKK1/DRD2 Taq1A polymorphism and alcohol dependence. Hum Genet. 2013; 132(3):347-58.

Barker JM, Zhang Y, Wang F, Taylor JR, Zhang H. Ethanol-induced Htr3a promoter methylation changes in mouse blood and brain. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013; 37 Suppl 1:E101-7.

Zhang H, Herman AI, Kranzler HR, Anton RF, Zhao H, Zheng W, Gelernter J. Array‐based profiling of DNA methylation changes associated with alcohol dependence. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013; 37 Suppl 1:E108‐15.

Wang F, Gelernter J, Kranzler HR, Zhang H. Identification of POMC exonic variants associated with substance dependence and body mass index. PLoS One. 2012; 7(9):e45300.

Zhang H, Herman AI, Kranzler HR, Anton RF, Simen AA, Gelernter J. Hypermethylation of OPRM1 promoter region in European Americans with alcohol dependence. J Hum Genet. 2012; 57(10):670‐5.

Zhang H, Wang F, Kranzler HR, Anton RF, Gelernter J. Variation in regulator of G‐protein signaling 17 gene (RGS17) is associated with multiple substance dependence diagnoses. Behav Brain Funct. 2012; 8:23.

Zhang H, Gelernter J, Gruen JR, Kranzler HR, Herman AI, Simen AA. Functional impact of a single‐nucleotide polymorphism in the OPRD1 promoter region. J Hum Genet. 2010; 55(5):278‐84.

Zhang H, Kranzler HR, Poling J, Gelernter J. Variation in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster CHRNA5‐CHRNA3‐CHRNB4 and its interaction with recent tobacco use influence cognitive flexibility. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010; 35(11):2211‐24.

Zhang H, Smith GN, Liu X, Holden JJ. Association of MAOA, 5-HTT, and NET promoter polymorphisms with gene expression and protein activity in human placentas. Physiol Genomics. 2010; 42(1):85-92.

Zhang H, Kranzler HR, Poling J, Gruen JR, Gelernter J. Cognitive flexibility is associated with KIBRA variant and modulated by recent tobacco use. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009; 34(12):2508‐16.

Zhang H, Kranzler HR, Weiss RD, Luo X, Brady KT, Anton RF, Farrer LA, Gelernter J. Pro‐opiomelanocortin gene variation related to alcohol or drug dependence: evidence and replications across family‐ and population‐based studies. Biol Psychiatry. 2009; 66(2):128‐36.

Zhang H, Kranzler HR, Yang BZ, Luo X, Gelernter J. The OPRD1 and OPRK1 loci in alcohol or drug dependence: OPRD1 variation modulates substance dependence risk. Mol Psychiatry. 2008; 13(5):531‐43.

Zhang H, Luo X, Kranzler HR, Lappalainen J, Yang BZ, Krupitsky E, Zvartau E, Gelernter J. Association between two mu‐opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) haplotype blocks and drug or alcohol dependence. Hum Mol Genet. 2006; 15(6):807‐19.

Zhang H, Ozbay F, Lappalainen J, Kranzler HR, van Dyck CH, Charney DS, Price LH, Southwick S, Yang BZ, Rasmussen A, Gelernter J. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene variants and Alzheimer’s disease, affective disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and substance dependence. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2006; 141B(4):387-93.

Zhang H, Liu X, Zhang C, Mundo E, Macciardi F, Grayson DR, Guidotti AR, Holden JJ. Reelin gene alleles and susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders. Mol Psychiatry. 2002; 7(9):1012-7.