Dr. Bing Zhang, a computational biologist with a focus on cancer bioinformatics, has been named the newest McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine.

The McNair Scholar program at Baylor identifies influential researchers in breast and pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience. It is funded by The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute.

“It is a great honor to be selected as a McNair Scholar. This accolade will bring recognition to the field of bioinformatics as it relates to cancer,” said Zhang. “I am excited to have the opportunity to interact with other McNair scholars and collaborate with these renowned physicians and researchers.”

Zhang’s work focuses on integrating proteomic and genomic data into the study of cancer to improve overall cancer care. Analyzing the proteomic data helps to understand what exactly within the tumor needs to be targeted in order to see the most impactful results from treatment.

Zhang joins Baylor as a professor in molecular and human genetics and the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center within the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Prior to joining Baylor, Zhang attended undergraduate and graduate school in his native China, receiving degrees in biology and genetics from Nanjing University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, respectively. Zhang also attended the University of Tennessee, performing postdoctoral research in functional genomics, and the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he conducted postdoctoral research in bioinformatics. Zhang has been a faculty member at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s department of biomedical informatics and department of cancer biology since 2006.

“I began to realize that I had a larger interest in actually analyzing the huge amounts of data we were generating than I did in generating the data itself while at the University of Tennessee,” said Zhang. “My transition from biologist to bioinformatician has been personally and professionally rewarding, especially when biology is now a data-driven science.”

Some of Zhang’s early accomplishments include a groundbreaking study in integrating proteomics into the study of colon cancer, which stimulated the emerging research field of cancer proteogenomics, and the development of WebGestalt (Web-based gene set analysis toolkit), a popular systems biology tool that aids biologists in translating omics data into biological insights.

Zhang will continue his work in proteogenomics and systems biology here at Baylor, focusing on their impact in the treatment of breast cancer.

“I’m excited to join Baylor’s strong genetics and cancer programs, and to collaborate with other geneticists and oncologists to change how we look at and diagnose cancer. I am appreciative of the support from Robert and Janice McNair and The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation,” said Zhang.