Clinical Focus

  • Residency

Professional Education

  • IRTA Fellow, National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (2012)

Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


All Publications

  • Acquiring snapshots of the orientation of trans-membrane protein domains using a hybrid FRET pair FEBS LETTERS Gahl, R. F., Tekle, E., Zhu, G. A., Taraska, J. W., Tjandra, N. 2015; 589 (8): 885-889


    One challenge in studying the function of membrane-embedded proteins is determining the orientation of key domains in the context of the changing and dynamic membrane environment. We describe a confocal microscopy setup that utilizes external electric field pulses to direct dipicrylamine (DPA) to a membrane leaflet. The detection of FRET between DPA and a fluorescent probe attributes it to the inner or outer leaflet of a membrane. By utilizing short acquisition times and confocal imaging, this attribution could be made even in changing membrane environments. Our setup adds versatility to the study of the biological activity of membrane-embedded proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.febslet.2015.02.030

    View details for Web of Science ID 000351265800003

    View details for PubMedID 25747388

  • Gender differences in HIV risk behaviors in individuals recently released from prison: results of a pilot study Health & Justice Zhu, G. A., Birnbaum, N., Carroll-Scott, A., Evans, L., Fiellin, L. E., Wang, E. A. 2015; 3 (6)
  • Overall and progression-free survival in metastatic basosquamous cancer: A case series. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Zhu, G. A., Danial, C., Liu, A., Li, S., Su Chang, A. L. 2014; 70 (6): 1145-1146

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.03.003

    View details for PubMedID 24831322

  • Oral smoothened inhibitor for advanced basal cell carcinoma of the hand: a case report. Hand (New York, N.Y.) Zhu, G. A., Chen, A., Chang, A. L. 2014; 9 (1): 127-128

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11552-013-9555-0

    View details for PubMedID 24570650

  • Two Different Scenarios of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Within Advanced Basal Cell Carcinomas: Cases Illustrating the Importance of Serial Biopsy During Vismodegib Usage. JAMA dermatology Zhu, G. A., Sundram, U., Chang, A. L. 2014


    IMPORTANCE Vismodegib is a Hedgehog signaling pathway inhibitor recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for advanced basal cell carcinoma. We present 2 cases of clinically significant squamous cell carcinoma within the tumor bed of locally advanced basal cell carcinoma found during vismodegib treatment. OBSERVATIONS The first case is that of a patient with locally advanced basal cell carcinoma responsive to vismodegib but with an enlarging papule within the tumor bed. On biopsy, this papule was an invasive acantholytic squamous cell carcinoma. The second case is that of a patient with Gorlin syndrome with a locally advanced basal cell carcinoma that was stable while the patient was receiving therapy with vismodegib for 2.5 years but subsequently increased in size. Biopsy specimens from this tumor showed invasive squamous cell carcinoma, spindle cell subtype. In both cases, the squamous cell carcinomas were surgically resected. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE These cases highlight the importance of repeated biopsy in locally advanced basal cell carcinomas in 2 clinical situations: (1) when an area within the tumor responds differentially to vismodegib, and (2) when a tumor stops being suppressed by vismodegib. Timely diagnosis of non-basal cell histologic characteristics is critical to institution of effective therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.583

    View details for PubMedID 24740281

  • Patient With Gorlin Syndrome and Metastatic Basal Cell Carcinoma Refractory to Smoothened Inhibitors. JAMA dermatology Zhu, G. A., Li, A. S., Chang, A. L. 2014


    IMPORTANCE Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) in patients with Gorlin syndrome have been reported to be extremely sensitive to Smoothened (SMO) inhibitors, a novel targeted therapy against the Hedgehog pathway, because of characteristic mutations in these patients. A few cases of disease refractory to oral therapy with SMO inhibitors have been reported in patients with Gorlin syndrome and nonmetastatic BCCs, but refractory disease in distantly metastatic tumors has not been documented in this high-risk group. OBSERVATIONS A man with Gorlin syndrome and innumerable cutaneous BCCs presented with biopsy-proven BCC in his lungs. After SMO inhibitor therapy, almost all of his cutaneous tumors shrank, but his lung metastases did not. These lung metastases remained refractory to treatment despite institution of a second SMO inhibitor. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE We report a case of Gorlin syndrome in a patient with metastatic BCC refractory to SMO inhibitors. Furthermore, clinical responses in this patient's cutaneous tumors did not parallel the responses in the distant site. However, serial imaging after diagnosis of metastatic disease can be critical to monitor for response to therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8744

    View details for PubMedID 24898076



    Annually 700,000 individuals are released from U.S. prison, many at risk for food insecurity and HIV. The association between food insecurity and HIV risk behaviors has been established but not in this population. To investigate this association, we recruited 110 recently released prisoners to participate in a survey. Ninety-one percent of our sample was food insecure; 37% did not eat for an entire day in the past month. Those who did not eat for an entire day were more likely to report using alcohol, heroin, or cocaine before sex or exchanging sex for money compared to those who had at least a meal each day. From this pilot study, released prisoners appear to be at risk for food insecurity, and not eating for an entire day is associated with certain HIV risk behaviors. HIV prevention efforts should include longitudinal studies on the relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk behaviors among recently released prisoners.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316922100003

    View details for PubMedID 23514079

  • Artificial membrane-like environments for in vitro studies of purified G-protein coupled receptors BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOMEMBRANES Serebryany, E., Zhu, G. A., Yan, E. C. 2012; 1818 (2): 225-233


    Functional reconstitution of transmembrane proteins remains a significant barrier to their biochemical, biophysical, and structural characterization. Studies of seven-transmembrane G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in vitro are particularly challenging because, ideally, they require access to the receptor on both sides of the membrane as well as within the plane of the membrane. However, understanding the structure and function of these receptors at the molecular level within a native-like environment will have a large impact both on basic knowledge of cell signaling and on pharmacological research. The goal of this article is to review the main classes of membrane mimics that have been, or could be, used for functional reconstitution of GPCRs. These include the use of micelles, bicelles, lipid vesicles, nanodiscs, lipidic cubic phases, and planar lipid membranes. Each of these approaches is evaluated with respect to its fundamental advantages and limitations and its applications in the field of GPCR research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane protein structure and function.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbamem.2011.07.047

    View details for Web of Science ID 000300380000014

    View details for PubMedID 21851807

  • G Protein‐Coupled Receptors Encyclopedia of Supramolecular Chemistry Zhu, G. A., Serebryany, E., Yan, E. C. Taylor & Francis. 2012

    View details for DOI 10.1081/E-ESMC-120048282

  • Chemical Kinetic Analysis of Thermal Decay of Rhodopsin Reveals Unusual Energetics of Thermal Isomerization and Hydrolysis of Schiff Base JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Liu, J., Liu, M. Y., Fu, L., Zhu, G. A., Yan, E. C. 2011; 286 (44): 38408-38416


    The thermal properties of rhodopsin, which set the threshold of our vision, have long been investigated, but the chemical kinetics of the thermal decay of rhodopsin has not been revealed in detail. To understand thermal decay quantitatively, we propose a kinetic model consisting of two pathways: 1) thermal isomerization of 11-cis-retinal followed by hydrolysis of Schiff base (SB) and 2) hydrolysis of SB in dark state rhodopsin followed by opsin-catalyzed isomerization of free 11-cis-retinal. We solve the kinetic model mathematically and use it to analyze kinetic data from four experiments that we designed to assay thermal decay, isomerization, hydrolysis of SB using dark state rhodopsin, and hydrolysis of SB using photoactivated rhodopsin. We apply the model to WT rhodopsin and E181Q and S186A mutants at 55 °C, as well as WT rhodopsin in H(2)O and D(2)O at 59 °C. The results show that the hydrogen-bonding network strongly restrains thermal isomerization but is less important in opsin and activated rhodopsin. Furthermore, the ability to obtain individual rate constants allows comparison of thermal processes under various conditions. Our kinetic model and experiments reveal two unusual energetic properties: the steep temperature dependence of the rates of thermal isomerization and SB hydrolysis in the dark state and a strong deuterium isotope effect on dark state SB hydrolysis. These findings can be applied to study pathogenic rhodopsin mutants and other visual pigments.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M111.280602

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296594200055

    View details for PubMedID 21921035