Location: 5.016V.5 - MED


Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics

Zhang, Nu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Personal Statement:

Dr. Zhang studies the mechanisms underlying the differentiation and retention of tissue resident memory T cells controlled by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-B) signaling following acute infections. Dr. Zhang has the expertise and motivation necessary to successfully carry out the prosed work. He has a solid background in immunology, with specific training and expertise in key research areas.


Ph.D., Immunology at Duke University


Keywords: Tissue-Resident Memory T Cells

Research interests:
The long-term goal of my research is to understand the biology and function of tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cells and tumor infiltrating T cells in health and disease, and the role of Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) in their differentiation, homeostasis and metabolic regulation.

  • Metabolic reprogram has been associated with memory T cell differentiation. However, the signals that control T cell metabolism remain elusive.
  • Infectious diseases are a big burden to society. Many pathogens invade the body through local tissues. The early stage of infection, while the pathogen is confined to these localized sites, provides the ideal window of opportunity for an effective immune response. Trm cells, a newly identified population of memory T cells, resident in a variety of peripheral tissues, are ideally situated to act during this window and stall the infection. TGF-β is essential for the differentiation of Trm cells in the skin, lung and gut. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling Trm cells are largely unknown.
  • Cancer remains as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Tumor infiltrating T cells are associated with the overall survival of cancer patients. Providing the phenotypic similarities between Trm and tumor infiltrating T cells, it remains to be determined whether tumor infiltrating T cells are regulated by similar mechanisms as Trm cells.

Keeping these important questions in mind, we are going to focus on TGF-β-dependent metabolic programs, Trm cells and tumor infiltrating T cells under various in vivo settings.

Awards & Accomplishments

  • University of Texas System Rising STARS Award, 2015.
  • Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Award, 2015.


  • The Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC)


Complete List of Publications

  • Chaoyu Ma and Nu Zhang. Transforming growth factor-b signaling is constantly shaping memory T cell population. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2015 Sep 1;112(35):11013-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1510119112.
  • Sabrina Schwartzkopff, Sandra Woyciechowski, Ulrike Aichele, Tobias Flecken, Nu Zhang, Robert Thimme and Hanspeter Pircher. TGF-b downregulates of KLRG1 expression in mouse and human CD8+ T cells. Euro. J. Immunol. 2015 Aug;45(8):2212-7. doi:10.1002/eji.201545634. Epub 2015 Jun 15.
  • Nu Zhang and Michael J. Bevan. Transforming growth factor-b signaling controls the formation and maintenance of gut-resident memory T cells by regulating migration and retention. Immunity, 2013 Oct 17;39 (4):687-96. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.08.019.
  • Nu Zhang and Michael J. Bevan. TGF-b signaling to T cells inhibits autoimmunity during lymphopenia-driven proliferation. Nat Immunol. 2012 May 27; 13(7): 667-73. doi: 10.1038/ni.2319.
  • Nu Zhang, Kaycie Hopkins, and You-Wen He. The Long Isoform of Cellular FLIP Is Essential for T Lymphocyte Proliferation through an NF-B-Independent Pathway. J Immunol 2008 180: 5506-5511.