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Ling Zhao, PhD- Lab

Ling Zhao’s lab conducts research to understand how diet can reduce chronic inflammation that is associated with obesity and chronic diseases.

Zhao received her PhD in Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition from the University of California Berkeley and completed the postdoc training at Western Human Nutrition Research Center, ARS, USDA, and University of California Davis before she joined the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2009.

Ling Zhao MD, PhD, 612 Mossman Building; Tel: 865-974-1833; Email:

Cellular and molecular basis through which dietary components, pharmacological agents, or environmental exposure (e.g., chemical ingredients in personal care products) increase or decrease the risk of obesity and obesity-associated metabolic diseases (e.g., insulin resistance and diabetes) using cell and animal models.

Last Five Years-

  1. Bae J, Chen J, and Zhao L** (2015) Chronic activation of pattern recognition receptors suppresses brown adipogenesis of multipotent mesodermal stem cells and brown preadipocytes. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 2015 Jun; 93(3):251-61.
  2. Chen L, Mo H, Zhao L, Gao W, Wang S, Cromie M, Lu C, Wang J, and Shen C (2016) Therapeutic properties of green tea against environmental insults. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2017 Feb; 40:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 27.
  3. Kennedy RC, Fling, RR, Robeson MS, Saxton AM, Donnell RL, Bemis DA, Liu J, Zhao L, and Chen J (2016) Temporal development of gut microbiota in triclocarban exposed pregnant and neonatal Rats. Science Report  2016 Sep 20; 6: 33430. doi: 10.1038/srep33430.
  4. Kodani S, Overby H, Morisseau C, Chen J, Zhao L, and Hammock B (2016) Parabens inhibit fatty acid amide hydrolase: a potential role in paraben-enhanced 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation. Toxicology Letters 2016 Nov 16;262:92-99. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2016.09.011. Epub 2016 Sep 19.
  5. Hu P, Kennedy R, Chen X, Zhang J, Shen C, Chen J, and Zhao L** (2016) Post-weaning exposure to parabens increase adiposity but suppress bone formation markers in females of C57BL6/J mice. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2016 Nov; 23(21):21957-21968. Epub 2016 Aug 18.
  6. Ono-Moore K*, Zhao L*, Huang S, Kim J, Rutkowsky JM, Snodgrass RG, Schneider DA, Quon MJ, Graham JL, Havel P and Hwang D (2017) Transgenic mice with ectopic expression of constitutively active TLR4 in adipose tissues do not show impaired insulin sensitivity. Immunity, Inflammation and Disease 2017 Aug 4. doi: 10.1002/iid3.162. [Epub ahead of print]. *Shared first authorship.
  7. Hu P, Overby H, Heal E, Wang S, Chen J, Shen C, and Zhao L** (2017) Methylparaben and butylparaben alter multipotent mesenchymal stem cell fates towards adipocyte lineage. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 2017 May 17;329:48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2017.05.019. [Epub ahead of print]
  8. Zu, Y*, and Overby H*, Ren G, Fan Z, Zhao L**, and Wang Sθ (2017) Resveratrol liposomes and lipid nanocarriers comparison of characteristics and inducing browning of white adipocytes. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces. 2018 Apr 1;164:414-423. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2017.12.044. Epub 2017 Dec 27. * Share first authorship. θ, Share corresponding authorship.
  9. Brown SE, Sant KE, Fleischman SM, Venezia O, Roy MA, Zhao L, and Timme-Laragy AR (2018) Pancreatic beta cells are a sensitive target of embryonic exposure to butylparaben in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2018 110(11):933-948. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1215. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Hao L, Kearns J. Scott S, Wu D, Kodani S, Morisseau C, Hammock SD, Sun X, Zhao L**, and Wang S** (2018) Indomethacin enhanced brown fat activity. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2018 Mar 22. pii: jpet.117.246256. doi: 10.1124/jpet.117.246256. [Epub ahead of print]**Shared Corresponding authorship.
  11. Kennedy RC, Fling, RR, Robeson MS, Saxton AM, Donnell RL, Bemis DA, Liu J, Zhao L, and Chen J (2018) Temporal dynamics of gut microbiota in triclocarban exposed weaned rats. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 2018 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-1627-9. [Epub ahead of print]
  12. Zhang J, Cheng C, Oueslati R, Wu J, Zhao L, Chen J, and Almeida R (2018) Rapid, highly sensitive detection of Gram-negative bacteria with lipopolysaccharide based disposable aptasensor. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2018; 112:48-53.
  13. Hao L, Scott S, Abbasi M, Zu Y, Khan M, Wu D, Zhao L, and Wang S (2019) Metabolic beneficial effects of mirabegron in vitro and in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 2019 Jun;369(3):419-427. doi: 10.1124/jpet.118.255778.
  14. Overby H, Yang Y, Xu X, Wang S, and Zhao L** (2020) Indomethacin promotes browning and brown adipogenesis in both murine and human fat cells. Pharmacology Research and Perspectives  2020 Jun;8(3):e00592. doi: 10.1002/prp2.592.

Myah Trevethan, MS Graduate Student 

Myah is from Wisconsin and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics in 2019. I am a second-year graduate student in the Cellular and Molecular Nutrition program and will be doing dietetic internship rotations in the spring. She hopes to become an RDN and eventually earn a PhD to work in academia.


Xinyun (Sherry) Xu, PhD Graduate Student 

Sherry is from China and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Dietetics track from UTK in May 2020. She is currently in the first year of her PhD graduate program. Through nutrition, Sherry has met amazing professors, graduate students, and professionals. She is extremely thankful for all of her experiences and is excited to see where her future in nutrition takes her!