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Natasha Elizabeth Zachara, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Natasha Elizabeth Zachara, Ph.D.
  • Co-Director, Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry

Research Interests

Regulation of cell survival/death signaling by intracellular glycosylation; regulation of metabolic pathways that impact glycosylation; autophagy; proteomics and glycomics. more


Dr. Natasha Zachara is an associate professor of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the role of nucleocytoplasmic glycosylation, O-GlcNAc, in cell survival and the cellular stress response. She serves as the co-director of the Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry and the director of Immersive Training in the Glycosciences.

She received her undergraduate degree in biotechnology from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She earned her Ph.D. from Macquarie University. She completed postdoctoral studies in glycobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Zachara joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2007.

She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Lorne Protein Structure and Function Young Scientist Award in 2006. more


  • Co-Director, Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry
  • Director, Immersive Training in the Glycosciences
  • Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D., Macquarie University (Australia) (1999)
  • B.Tech., Macquarie University (Australia) (1993)

Additional Training

Honors Degree (First Class), Macquarie University (Australia) / Biotechnology (1994)

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 2005

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Zachara and her team are engaged in understanding which proteins are modified dynamically by O-GlcNAc in response to stress, and how this alters protein function in such a way that elevating O-GlcNAc before, or immediately after, cellular injury is protective in both in vitro and in vivo models.

In response to multiple forms of cellular stress, levels of the O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) protein modification are elevated rapidly and dynamically on myriad nuclear, mitocohdrial and cytoplasmic proteins. Several studies demonstrate that elevation of O-GlcNAc prior to heat stress, oxidative stress, hypoxia, trauma hemorrhage and ischemia reperfusion injury is protective, suggesting that increased O-GlcNAc in response to stress is a survival response of cells injury. However, the mechanisms by which O-GlcNAc regulates protein function leading to cell survival have not been defined.

Dr. Zachara's long-term goal is to determine how stress-induced changes in the O-GlcNAc protein modification lead to increased cell/tissue survival in response to injury, in order to develop novel strategies for the treatment of numerous diseases, including ischemia reperfusion injury.

Lab Website: Zachara Lab

Selected Publications

Zachara N. E., O'Donnell N., Mercer J. J., Marth J. D., and Hart G. W. (2004) Dynamic O-GlcNAc modification of nucleocytoplasmic proteins in response to stress. A survival response of mammalian cells. J. Biol. Chem., 279, 30133-30142.

Jones S. P., Zachara N. E., Teshima Y., Hart G. W., and Marban E. (2008) Endogenously-recruitable cardioprotection by N-acetylglucosamine linkage to cellular proteins. Circulation, 117, 1172-1182.

Kazemi Z., Chang H., Haserodt S. K., McKen C., Zachara N.E. (2010) O-GlcNAc Regulates Stress-Induced Heat Shock Protein Expression in a GSK-3? Dependent Manner. J. Biol. Chem., 285, 39096-39107.

Jensen R.V., Zachara N.E., Nielsen P.H., Kimose H.H., Kristiansen S.B., and Botker H.E. (2013) Impact of O-GlcNAc on cardioprotection by remote ischemic preconditioning in non-diabetic and diabetic patients. Cardiovascular Research, 97(2): 369-378.

Zhong J., Martinez M., Sengupta S., Lee A., Wu X., Chaerkady R., O'Meally R., Cole R. N., Pandey A., Zachara N. E. (2015) Quantitative Phosphoproteomics Reveals Crosstalk Between Phosphorylation and O-GlcNAc in the DNA Damage Response Pathway. Proteomics, 15(2-3): 591-607.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry

BCMB Graduate Program

Courses and Syllabi

  • Current Topics in Biological Chemistry
    Journal Discussion
  • Scientific Foundations in Metabolism
    Small Group Instruction
    2009 - 2011
  • Introduction to Glycobiology (330.712)
  • Fundamental in Glycobiology (340.709)
  • Techniques in Glycobiology (240.710)
  • Molecular Biology of Cellular Stress Control
    2013 - 2015
  • Macromolecular Structure and Analysis
  • Scientific Foundations in Metabolism

Activities & Honors


  • Most Cited Articles 2006 - 2010, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), 2011
  • Top 3 Downloaded Papers of General Subjects in 2005, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), 2006
  • Albert Lehninger Young Scientist Award, 2005
  • Lorne Protein Structure and Function Young Scientist Award, 2006
  • Young Scientist Award, International Glycoconjugate Organization, 1997
  • Australian Post-Graduate Award, Macquarie University, 1995 - 1998
  • AMRAD Molecular Biology Award, Macquarie University, 1993


  • Cell Stress Society International, 2010
  • The American Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists, 2005
  • The Society for Glycobiology, 2005

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2019
  • Member, Membrane Biology and Protein Processing Study Section, 2018
  • Organizer, Glycobiology Interest Group, 2010
  • Organizer, Annual Posters Session - Glycobiology Interest Group, 2012
  • Glycobiology Theme Organizer, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2014
  • Editorial board, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2013
  • Co-Director, Biological Chemistry Graduate Program, 2012
  • Admissions Committee, BCMB Graduate Program, 2011
  • Faculty Senate (previously the Medical School Council), Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2011
  • 100th Anniversary Committee, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2008
  • Hellerman Lecture Selection Committee, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2010
  • Facuaty Search Committee - Biological Chemistry, Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2009
  • Faculty Search Committee, Joseph and Esther Handler Chair in the Division of Nephrology, 2018
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