Yuan Zhu, Ph.D., is a Gilbert Family Endowed Professor of Neurofibromatosis Research, and serves as scientific director in the Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. Dr. Zhu also serves as associate director of Basic Research at the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Zhu is professor in the Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Zhu obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in 2000, was assistant professor from 2003 to 2010, and associate professor with tenure from 2010 to 2013 in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Zhu has contributed significantly to the understanding of the cellular and mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)-associated diseases, the role of tumor suppressor genes in normal development and brain tumorigenesis. Dr. Zhu has developed a series of genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models for a variety of NF1-associated diseases, including plexiform neurofibroma, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST), low- and high-grade gliomas. Some or derivatives of these GEM models were used for the preclinical studies, serving the basis for the success of clinical trials using MEK inhibitors for plexiform neurofibroma. Further, Dr. Zhu’s group is one of the researcher groups that showed therapeutic efficacy of MEKi in treating NF1-associated diseases.
Dr. Zhu received a number of awards including Biological Sciences Scholars Program (BSSP) Scholar from the University of Michigan, General Motors Cancer Research Scholars Program Scholar, Paul Daniel Bogart Leadership Chair of Research from Brain Tumor Society, American Cancer Society Research Scholar, and Gilbert Family Endowed Professorship. Dr. Zhu co-chaired 2014 CTF NF conference at Washington DC. Dr. Zhu was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2019.