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Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D.

Edythe Harris Lucas and Clara Lucas Lynn Chair in Hematology

Professor of Medicine

Research Interests: Human blood development and diseases; Human stem cell biology and engineering; Genome engineering; Regenerative medicine

Contact for Research Inquiries

733 N. Broadway
Room 747
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-614-6958
Fax: 443-287-5611

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Linzhao Cheng, PhD, the Edythe Harris Lucas and Clara Lucas Lynn Professor of Hematology, is a professor of medicine, oncology and gynecology/obstetrics. He is a founding member of the Stem Cell Program in the Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Cheng is also the associate director for basic research in the Division of Hematology. Cheng received his Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from The Johns Hopkins University in 1991 and joined its faculty in 1999.

While a doctoral student, Dr. Cheng worked on human DNA replication models and transcriptional factors, including one of the first two DNA-binding proteins from mammalian cells (NF-I/CTF). He initiated his stem cell research career as a postdoctoral fellow, helping establish mouse pluripotent stem cell lines from primordial germ cells, a landmark study published in Nature in 1992. Since 1994, his research has focused on human stem cell biology and cell engineering. Dr. Cheng led groups within the industry and at Johns Hopkins and has published more than 78 original research papers, including those in Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics, Cell, Stem Cell, Blood, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His lab is currently focused on using human stem cells for blood disease modeling and treatment.

Dr. Cheng's involvement in stem cell research has included investigations at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the biotech industry, and as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins. He was the recipient of the USA Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2003. In 2012, Dr. Cheng was elected as a fellow of American Association for Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). Dr. Cheng also received an award in 2004 from National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC) to promote international collaborations. He has served frequently as a reviewer/adviser for granting agencies including the NIH, NSF (USA), Cancer Research UK, Canada FFI, Swiss NSF, NSFC, and STCSM (Shanghai) and as an editorial board member for Stem Cells (USA), Regenerative Medicine (UK), and Cell Research (China). Dr. Cheng is a member of the International Affairs Committee for the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the Stem Cell Policy and Ethics (SCoPE) Program at The Johns Hopkins University, and the (international) Hinxton Group focusing on stem cell policies and ethics. more


  • Edythe Harris Lucas and Clara Lucas Lynn Chair in Hematology
  • Associate Director for Basic Research
  • Member, Stem Cell Program in the Institute of Cell Engineering
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
  • Professor of Oncology



  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (1991)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The Cheng lab studies human stem cell biology and engineering to develop experimental models of and treatments for human blood diseases. The team has made several discoveries in understanding human stem cell self-renewal and hematopoietic (blood-forming) differentiation using adult hematopoietic stem cells and human pluripotent stem cells.   They also poineered recently efficient methods to establish human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from both blood cells and fibroblasts by plasmids without integrating into cellular chromosomes.   In effort to develop better genetic models and gene therapy methods, the Cheng lab develops new methods for making genetic modifications in human cells using various methods such as human genome editing.


Dr. Cheng's main laboratory is working on human stem cell biology and engineering, and their applications in regenerative medicine for curing blood diseases.   One of their objectives is to understand genetic and epigenetic regulation of cell fate determination in hematopoiesis. The group currently focuses on using human pluripotent stem such as iPS cells from healthy donors and patients. They use both cellular differentiation and genetic approaches such as genome editing to orrect or create mutations in human stem cells.   Their goals is to investigate human stem cell biology and diseases.    More details are available on his lab website

Technology Expertise Keywords

Stem cell biology, Human iPS cells and reprogramming, human genome engineering, genome editing

Clinical Trials

None at this moment

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Peer-reviewed original research articles (?78)
1.: Cheng L and Kelly TJ. Transcriptional activator Nuclear Factor I stimulates the replication of SV40 minichromosomes in vivo and in vitro. Cell. 1989; 59:541-551.

2.: Cheng L, Workman JL, Kingston RE, Kelly TJ. Regulation of DNA replication in vitro by the transcriptional activation domain of GAL4-VP16. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.(USA) 1992; 89: 589-593.

3.: Resnick JL, Bixler L, Cheng L, Donovan PJ. Long-term proliferation of mouse primordial germ cell in culture. Nature. 1992; 359: 550-551.

4.: Cheng L† , Fu J, Tsukamoto A, Hawley RG. Use of green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants to monitor gene transfer and expression in mammalian cells. Nature Biotechnology. 1996; 14: 606-609. († Corresponding author).

5.: Yang T-T, Cheng L, Kain SL. Optimized codon usage and chromophore mutations provide enhanced sensitivity with green fluorescent protein in mammalian cells. Nucl. Acid. Res. 1996; 24: 4592-4593.

6.: Cui Y , Golob J, Kelleher E, Ye Z, Pardoll D, Cheng L. Targeting transgene expression to antigen presenting cells derived from lentivirus transduced, engrafting human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. Blood. 2002; 99: 399-408. Comment:

7.: Cheng L, Hammond H, Ye Z, Zhan X, Dravid G. Human adult marrow cells support prolonged expansion of human embryonic stem cells in culture. Stem Cells, 2003; 20:121-132.

8.: Zhan X, Dravid G, Ye Z, Hammond H, Shamblott M, Gearhart J, Cheng L. Functional antigen-presenting leukocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells in vitro. The Lancet . 2004; 363:163-171.

9.: Chen G, Ye Z, Yu X, Zou J, Mali P, Brodsky RA, Cheng L. Trophoblast differentiation defect in human embryonic stem cells lacking PIG-A and GPI-anchored cell surface proteins. Cell Stem Cell. 2008; 2(4):345-355.

10. Yu X, Zou J, Ye Z, Hammond HH, Chen G, Tokunaga A, Mali P, Li YM, Civin CI, Gaiano N, Cheng L. Notch signaling activation in human embryonic stem cells is required for embryonic but not trophoblastic lineage commitment. Cell Stem Cell. 2008; 2(5):461-471.

11. Mali P, Ye Z, Hammond H, Yu X, Lin J, Chen G, Zou J, Cheng L. Improved efficiency and pace of generating induced pluripotent stem cells from human adult and fetal fibroblasts. Stem Cells. 2008; 26(8):1998-2005.

12. Zou J, Maeder ML, Mali P, Pruett-Miller SM, Thibodeau-Beganny S, Chou BK, Chen G, Ye Z, Park IH, Daley GQ, Porteus MH, Joung JK, Cheng L. Gene targeting of a disease-related gene in human induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2009; 5(1):97-110.

13. Ye Z, Zhan H, Mali P, Dowey S, Jang Y-Y, Dang CV, Spivak JL, Moliterno AR, Cheng L . Human induced pluripotent stem cells from blood cells of healthy donors and patients with acquired blood disorders. Blood. 2009; 114:5473-5480.

14. Mali P, Chou, BK, Ye Z, Zou J, Yen J, Dowey S, Brodsky RA, Ohm JE, Yu W, Baylin SB, Yusa K, Bradley A, Meyers DJ, Mukherjee C, Cole PA, Cheng L. Butyrate greatly enhances derivation of human induced pluripotent stem by promoting epigenetic remodeling and the expression of pluripotency-associated genes. Stem Cells. 2010; 28(4): 713-720.

15. Ohm JE*, Mali P*, Van Neste L*, Berman DM, Liang L, Briggs K, Pandiyan K, Zhang W, Argani P, Simons B, Yu W, Matsui W, Van Criekinge W, Zambidis E, Rassool F, Schuebel K, Cope L, Yen J, Mohammad H, Cheng L+, Baylin SB+. Cancer-related Epigenome Changes Associated with Reprogramming to Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cancer Research, 2010; 70(19):7662-73. PMID: 20841480. (*Equal contributions; +Co-corresponding authors)

16. Chou BK, Mali P, Huang X, Ye Z, Dowey SN, Resar LMS, Zou C, Zhang YA, Tong J and Cheng L. Efficient human iPS cell derivation by a non-integrating plasmid from blood cells with unique epigenetic and gene expression signatures. Cell Research, 2011; 21(3):518-29.

Selected as one of the two Sanofi-Cell Research Outstanding Papers of 2011;

17. Zou J†, Mali P, Huang X, Dowey SN, and Cheng L†. Site-specific gene correction of a point mutation in human iPS cells derived from sickle cell disease patient. Blood, 2011; 118(17):4599-4608. († Both are corresponding authors).

18. Cheng L†, Hansen NF, Zhao L, Du Y, Zou C, Donovan FX, Chou BK, Zhou G, Li S, Dowey SN, Ye Z, NISC Comparative Sequencing Program, Chandrasekharappa SC, Yang H, Mullikin JC and Liu PP†. Low incidence of DNA sequence variation in human induced pluripotent stem cells generated by non-integrating plasmid expression. Cell Stem Cell, 2012; 10(3):337-344 . († Both are corresponding authors).

Recent reviews:

1.: Mali P and Cheng L. Human Cell Engineering: Cellular Reprogramming and Genome Editing. Stem Cells, 2012; 30: 75-81

2.: Cheng L, Blazar B, High K and Porteus M. Zinc fingers hit off-targets. Nature Medicine, 2011; Oct. 11. 17(10): 1192-3.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Activities & Honors


  • Fellow, American Association for Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), 2012
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 2003
  • National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC), 2004

Professional Activities

  • International Affairs Committee, International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
  • Reviewer/Adviser, NIH
  • Reviewer/Adviser, NSF
  • Reviewer/Adviser, Cancer Research UK
  • Reviewer/Adviser, Canada FFI
  • Reviewer/Adviser, Swiss NSF
  • Reviewer/Adviser, NSFC
  • Reviewer/Adviser, STCSM
  • Study section on Molecular and Cellular Hematology, NIH, 2011 - 2015
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