Yazhen Zhu, MD, PhD

Yazhen Zhu, MD, PhD

Contact Information
Yazhen Zhu, MD, PhD
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Phone: 310-825-3170
Email: [email protected]
Lab website: https://uclaliquidbiopsy.org
UCLA Profile: https://profiles.ucla.edu/yazhen.zhu

Academic Title
Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Director, UCLA Liquid Biopsy Laboratory

Clinical Expertise
Molecular Pathology, Liquid Biopsy, Extracellular Vesicles, Circulating Tumor Cells

MD, Wuhan University, 2005
PhD, Fudan University, 2010

Dr. Yazhen Zhu joined the UCLA faculty in 2021 as an Assistant Professor in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and then joined UCLA Pathology in 2022. Dr. Zhu currently directs the liquid biopsy laboratory at UCLA. The primary research interest of the liquid biopsy lab is exploring the unique potential of liquid biopsy markers, including circulating rare cells and extracellular vesicles (EVs), to facilitate the clinical translation and validation of cancer and prenatal diagnostic platforms.

Dr. Zhu completed her residency training in 2012 in the Pathology Department of Guangdong Provincial Hospital of TCM (China) where she served as an attending pathologist for the next five years until her transition to the United States. Her clinical practice covered surgical pathology in gastrointestinal cancer, thyroid cancer, and breast cancer. From 2013 to 2017, she also served as the founding Director of the Molecular Pathology Laboratory of the Pathology Department, where she developed and validated a collection of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) for detecting oncogenic mutations for targeted cancer therapy. Dr. Zhu’s experience in surgical pathology and molecular pathology equipped her with a unique strength for identifying unmet clinical needs in translational research for cancer diagnostics.

Dr. Zhu's academic journey continued at UCLA as an Assistant Project Scientist and later as an Assistant Researcher in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology from 2017 to 2021. This period was marked by intensive training in the realm of liquid biopsy-based translational research for cancer and prenatal diagnostics. Since joining UCLA, Dr. Zhu has been actively engaged in establishing translational research programs that bridge the gap between technology development and clinical applications. These programs center on the development and validation of liquid biopsy-based diagnostic platforms for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis and cancer detection. The translational research programs involve close collaboration with clinical faculties across many departments at UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and institutions outside California. Departments such as Liver Transplant Surgery, Pancreatic Cancer Surgery, Thyroid Surgery, Medical Oncology, and Maternal Fetal Medicine all benefit from her contributions.