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Zhang, Cuilin

Formal Title:

Sr. Investigator





6710B ROCKLEDGE DRIVE Room 3121, MSC 7004
Bethesda ,MD 20817



Cuilin Zhang, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., is a Senior Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch. Dr. Zhang earned both her master of public health degree and Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Washington. She received her postdoctoral training in genetic and nutritional epidemiology at Harvard University. Dr. Zhang's research interest is at the interface of genetic and non-genetic biological markers and potentially modifiable exogenous factors, focusing on their interplay in relation to the development of complex diseases. More specifically, her current research activities focus primarily on the roles of genetic and environmental factors in the pathogenesis of gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity and health consequences of these complications. Dr. Zhang also has long-standing research interests in fetal origins of chronic diseases, life course epidemiology, and modifications of diet and lifestyle to improve reproductive outcomes and child health. Dr. Zhang serves as a Principal Investigator for the following studies.

  1. Diabetes & Women’s Health Study ( External Web Site Policy). The study applied a hybrid design among approximately 4,000 women from U.S. and Denmark who had diabetes in pregnancy and have been followed up for at least 10 years. The study is focusing on the identification of determinants (medical, diet and lifestyle, genetic and their interactions) for the progression from gestational diabetes to type 2 diabetes and its complications such as cardiovascular diseases and the investigation of biochemical markers that may predict the development of these complications among the pre-diabetic population.
  2. A Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors and Pathogenesis of Gestational Diabetes. Currently, the study focuses on a comprehensive panel of biochemical markers and epigenetic markers that are putatively implicated in glucose homeostasis, fetal growth, or both. Non-targeted metabolomics will also be analyzed for the discovery of new pathways and/or biochemical markers related to glucose intolerance and subsequent adverse fetal outcomes.
  3. A Study of Long-term Trans-generational Impacts of Diabetes and Obesity. The study aims to recruit approximately 5000 mother-offspring pairs in U.S. and Denmark to investigate the long-term trans-generational impacts of obesity and diabetes on the metabolic, vascular and reproductive health in the offspring, their determinants and the underlying biological mechanisms (e.g. the role of metabolomics and epigenetic changes).
  4. Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP) Mortality Linkage Study. The overarching goal of this study is investigate the long-term health implications of pregnancy conditions by linking pregnancy data from a large historic pregnancy cohort with comprehensive data on pregnancy conditions—the CPP cohort—to the National Death Index (NDI).  CPP cohort is a multisite U.S. prospective cohort study from 1959-1965 (n=48,197). Ascertaining vital status will allow for the investigation of long-term health associated with pregnancy and neonatal complications. 

Featured Items:

Diabetes & Women's Health Study External Web Site Policy

CPP Mortality Linkage Study

Risk Factors and Biomarkers of Gestational Diabetes

Zhang C & Hu FB. (2012). Determinants of Obesity. In Gillman & Poston (Eds.), Maternal Obesity. Cambridge University Press.

Zhang C, Rawal S, Chong YS. Risk factors for gestational diabetes: is prevention possible? Diabetologia. 2016 Jul;59(7):1385-90.

Zhu Y, Mendola P, Albert PS, Bao W, Hinkle SN, Tsai M, Zhang C. Longitudinal study of insulin-like growth factor 1 and binding proteins 2 and 3 and subsequent risk of gestational diabetes among women in a multiracial cohort. Diabetes 2016 Jul 28. pii: db160514. [Epub ahead of print]

Hinkle SN, Buck Louis GM, Rawal S, Zhu Y, Albert PS, Zhang C. A Study of depression and gestational diabetes across the perinatal and postpartum period.  Diabetologia 2016 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Rawal S, Hinkle S, Bao W, Zhu Y, Grewal J, Albert PS, Weir NL, Tsai MY, Zhang C A longitudinal study of body iron status during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes: findings from a prospective, multiracial cohort  Diabetologia (In press)

Bao W, Tobias D, Hu FB, Chavarro JE, Zhang C A prospective study of potato intakes and the risk of gestational diabetes  BMJ  2016 Jan 12;352:h6898. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6898

Zhang C, Tobias D, Bao W, Kay S.  Adherence to healthy lifestyle and the risk of gestational diabetes: a prospective cohort study.  BMJ 2014;349:g5450.

Bao W, Bowers K, Tobias D, Vaag A, Chavarro JE,  Liu A, Strom M, Zhang C. Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors Associated With Risk of Progression From Gestational Diabetes Mellitus to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Internal Medicine 2014;174:1047-55.


Publications (PubMed):

Adherence to healthy lifestyle and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: prospective cohort study.
Rationale, design, and method of the Diabetes & Women's Health study - a study of long-term health implications of glucose intolerance in pregnancy and their determinants.
Physical activity and sedentary behaviors associated with risk of progression from gestational diabetes mellitus to type 2 diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study.
Genetic variants and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a systematic review.
Pancreatic beta-cell function and type 2 diabetes risk: quantify the causal effect using a Mendelian randomization approach based on meta-analyses.
Healthful dietary patterns and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk among women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus.
Birth weight, postnatal weight change, and risk for high blood pressure among chinese children.
Increased risk of hypertension after gestational diabetes mellitus: findings from a large prospective cohort study.
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