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Food Science and Human Nutrition Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition Department

Dr. Zhiyong Cheng

Assistant Professor - Human Nutrition

Dr. Cheng studies the mechanisms of nutrient and hormonal signals regulating metabolism at molecular level. Specifically, his research seeks to address how autophagy (a cellular remodeling process) regulates adipocytes and adiposity, and how environmental factors (e.g., diet or nutrients) regulate epigenetic pathways in metabolic health and disease. His long-tern goal is to formulate mechanism-based rationales or strategies for disease treatment or prevention. Dr. Cheng teaches Nutrition and Metabolism (HUN 4221), Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Nutrition (HUN 4813C), Advanced Human Nutrition (HUN 6245), and Nutritional Epigenomics (HUN 4936/HUN 6936). In his teaching activities, Dr. Cheng integrates cutting-edge research and basic knowledge in classes, where he sets high priority to building students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


  • Research

    Dr. Cheng's lab seeks to define the molecular mechanism of metabolic derangements in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, we are studying the regulatory network of FoxO and autophagy that mediate adipose development, expansion, and conversion. The effects on targeting FoxO and autophagy on mitochondrial function, adiposity, and metabolism are being investigated. Another project in the lab is focused on the epigenetic mechanism of metabolic changes, where we determine the effects of the environmental factors (e.g., nutrient and hormonal signaling) on DNA methylation, gene expression, and metabolism. The long-term goal of Dr. Cheng’s research is to develop mechanism-based strategies to prevent or treat the metabolic disorders.

  • Teaching

    Courses Taught

    • HUN 4221 Nutrition and Metabolism
    • HUN 4813C Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Nutrition
    • HUN 4936 Nutritional Epigenomics
    • HUN 6245, Advanced Human Nutrition (co-instructor)
    • HUN 6936 Nutritional Epigenomics
  • Education
    • American Diabetes Association Postdoctoral Fellow (Endocrionology & Metabolism), Harvard Medical School, 2012
    • Postdoctoral Fellow (Enzymology), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2006
    • Ph.D. (Analytical Biochemistry), Peking University, 2003
  • Publications

Contact Information

572 Newell Dr.
FSHN Building
FSHN 265
P.O. Box 110370
Gainesville, FL 32611-0370

Phone: (352) 294 3728
Fax: (352) 392 9467