Liying Zhang

Director, Cancer Molecular Diagnostics
Liying Zhang, MD, PhD

Liying Zhang, MD, PhD, FACMG, is a professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She currently serves as Director of Cancer Molecular Diagnostics at the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service in the UCLA Health System.

Dr. Zhang earned her MD degree from Peking University in Beijing, China in 1994, and her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University in 2003. At Johns Hopkins, she also earned her MS degree in Computer Science (with a concentration in Bioinformatics) in 2002. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty in 2020, Dr. Zhang served as a faculty member at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center beginning in 2005, rising to Director of Diagnostic Molecular Genetics Laboratory in 2009 and full attending/member in 2017. She also was the Associate Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's ACGME-accredited Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program (2009–2017).

The research in Dr. Zhang's lab is focused on identifying the genetic alterations in human cancers and the biomarkers of cancer progression and drug response through comprehensive molecular profiling and analysis of tumors. She is also interested in the identification and characterization of germline mutations in patients with solid tumor and hematologic malignancies that have immediate clinical applications for guiding treatment decisions such as PARP inhibitors in breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers, and inherited risk assessment for patient and their families.

In her role as Director of Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service in the UCLA Health System, Dr. Zhang provides senior leadership in clinical operations and strategic planning for all molecular testing labs including Molecular Pathology/Genetics and Cytogenetics as well as clinical bioinformatics/informatics for both cancer and germline genomic testing. She also currently leads expansion of our current clinical cancer genomic offerings to support integrated clinical cancer care for the UCLA Health System, and to identify, support and advance UCLA translational research into clinical use and technology transfer.  

In 2007, Dr. Zhang was honored with the Goldstein Award for her work on BRCA1 and BRCA2 as pathogenic variants in these two genes are leading cause of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), and in 2003, she received the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Postdoctoral Fellowship Award by the Department of Defense. Dr. Zhang also serves on several expert panels under the ClinGen project, a major leading effort supported by NIH to address the complexity of interpreting genomic variants. These include the working groups of Somatic Cancers (NTRK, Pediatric/Genitourinary/Hematologic cancer taskforces) and Hereditary Cancers (Clinical Domain Working Group, CDH1, PTEN, TP53, Hereditary Colorectal Cancer, Germline Somatic Data Interpretation, and Myeloid Malignancies Gene and Variant Curation).