Jasmine Zhou

Jasmine Zhou is a professor of computational biology in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Her research interests include disease diagnosis, network algorithms, gene expression, and gene regulation analysis.

Recent developments in big data have revolutionized biomedical sciences and led to advances in genomic technologies and to the production of vast quantities of diverse genomic information available in public repositories. Zhou and her team develop new methods to utilize this data to understand the connections among diseases in different organ systems, studying the signature molecular operations of each disease. Zhou’s pioneering methods include genome-based diagnostics, pattern mining across hundreds of networks, as well as identifying large numbers of important, functionally related genes that have been overlooked by existing approaches.

Zhou and her team rely on the parallel processing capacity of the HPC cluster to perform integrative analysis of public data from tens of thousands of laboratories. This data, once transformed, can serve various purposes. For example, Zhou develops network-mining algorithms, which are scalable to thousands of large-scale biological networks, to identify disease-specific pathways and decipher gene regulations. Zhou and her collaborators (Haiyan Huang from the University of California, Berkeley, and Chun-Chi Liu from Taiwan’s National Chung Hsing University) created an automated diagnostic database that both diagnoses and characterizes a wide range of diseases and can be used to construct disease-drug connectivity maps (See figure). More recently, Zhou’s team utilized the rapidly accumulating public RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) data to perform high-resolution functional annotations of the human transcriptome at the isoform level.

Zhou is a principal investigator (PI) of a five-year grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, to study disease connections as part of a collective of research centers that includes Brown University, Harvard University, Stanford University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Pittsburgh. Her USC team established the coordination center for the consortium of Cross-Organ Mechanism-Associated Phenotypes for Genetic Analysis (MAPGen), a research consortium that aims to redefine heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders based on their molecular mechanisms at the genetic level. Zhou’s team has recently released the DiseaseConnect, a public web server that integrates comprehensive genomics and other research data from the current literature to discover disease-disease connectivity via common molecular mechanisms.

Zhou is a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

zhoufig_500

ABOVE: Disease-drug connectivity map. The map contains 234 significant connections between 99 drug concepts (pink nodes) and 43 disease concepts (blue nodes). (A) The network structure of the connectivity map. (B) Close-up of the Doxorubicin subnetwork. (C) Close-up of the obesity subnetwork.