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Tao Zhang, PhD

Associate Professor, Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences School of Pharmacy College of Health and Pharmacy
Tao Zhang, PhD
Contact: Husson University
1 College Circle Bangor, Maine 04401
Phone: 207.404.5607
Room: 314B Peabody Hall


Dr. Tao Zhang joined Husson School of Pharmacy as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacokinetics in the spring of 2014. He earned a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from College of Pharmacy at University of Michigan in 2010. He then worked in Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) group at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in New Jersey for more than 3 years before joining Husson.

Dr. Zhang’s current research interests focus on two areas: (1) Pharmacokinetic /pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) modeling and physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling to support dose selection and assess drug-drug interaction (DDI) potential; (2) Identification and molecular mechanism study of compounds for cancer prevention and therapeutics. Dr. Zhang has authored over 30 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals including Drug Metabolism and Disposition, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Outside of work, Dr. Zhang enjoys spending time with his family. He also likes to take time out for sports and gardening.


One of Dr. Zhang’s research interests is to conduct preclinical drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) related studies and utilize in silico pharmacokinetic (PK) analysis tools (Phoenix/WinNonlin, ADAPT 5, Gastroplus, Simcyp and NONMEM, etc.) to build PK, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD), or physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to optimize drug dosage regimen and assess drug safety profiles in the human. These studies may aim to predict first-in-human dose, predict food effects, assess drug-drug interaction and in healthy subjects and special patient population (e.g., pediatrics, renal/hepatic impaired patients). Currently ongoing project is to develop approaches to enhance the prediction performance of drug transfer into human milk during breastfeeding.

Another research area is to identify targeted agents that interact with signaling pathways or molecules crucial for chronic inflammation and cancer development. Dr. Zhang has studied the molecular mechanism and efficacy of many natural bioactives (polyphenolic catechin, isothiocyanates, tripterine) against breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer. A current research project is to investigate the relationship of broccoli sprout glucosinolates and isothiocyanates with gut microbiota for gut chronic inflammation and cancer treatment.



Awards and Honors

2020 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Predicting the Transfer of Breast Cancer Resistant Protein (BCRP) Substrates into Human Milk Using In Vitro to In Vivo Extrapolation (IVIVE). Zhang (PI), 09/28/2020-09/27/2023, $584,639.

2020 Husson University Distinguished Faculty Research Award.

2019 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In Vitro Cell Permeation Model and Drug Classification for the Prediction of Drug Transfer into Human Milk. Zhang (PI), 08/16/2019-08/15/2021, $264,880.

2019 FDA. In Vitro Cell Permeation Model and Drug Classification for the Prediction of Drug Transfer into Human Milk. Zhang (PI), 2019-2020, $ 165,000.

2018 USDA/NIFA. Understanding the role of broccoli sprout bioactives and the gut microbiome in the suppression of colon tumorigenesis. Li (PI), Chen (co-PI), Zhang (co-Investigator). 2018 – 2022, $500,000.

2016 The Women's Philanthropy Council/Husson University Faculty Excellence Award

2015 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) New Investigator Award (NIA)


Peer-Reviewed Publications                          

  1. Jingcheng Xiao, Doanh Tran, Xinyuan Zhang, Tao Zhang, Shirley Seo, Haojie Zhu, Peng Zou. Biliary Excretion–Mediated Food Effects and Prediction. The AAPS Journal volume 22, Article number: 124 (2020)
  2. Emily Wells, Tao Zhang*. A Review of Current Methods for Food Effect Prediction During Drug Development. Current Pharmacology Reports 6, 267-279, September 02, 2020. *Corresponding author.
  3. Todd M. Conner, Ronald C. Reed, Tao Zhang*. A Physiologically-Based Pharmacokinetic Model For Optimally Profiling Lamotrigine Disposition and Drug-drug Interactions. European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics. 2018 Nov 20. doi: 10.1007/s13318-018-0532-4.. *Corresponding author.
  4. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Grace Y. Chen. Flavonoids and Colorectal Cancer Prevention: A Systematic Review. Antioxidants. 2018, 7(12), 187;
  5. Yanyan Li, Yeon Bai, Bo Wen, Tao Zhang. Comparison of Sulforaphane Content: Traditional vs. Modified Kimchi Recipes. Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sep 2018. Volume 118, Issue 9, Supplement.
  6. Yanyan Li, Aaron Domina, Gi Lim, Teralyn Chang, Tao Zhang. Evaluation of curcumin, a natural product in turmeric, on Burkitt lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia cancer stem cell markers. Future Oncol. 2018 Oct;14(23):2353-2360. doi: 10.2217/fon-2018-0202.
  7. Todd M. Conner, Vahagn C. Nikolian, Patrick E. Georgoff, Manjunath P. Pai, Hasan B Alam, Duxin Sun, Ronald C. Reed, Tao Zhang*. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling of disposition and drug-drug interactions for valproic acid and divalproex. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2018 Jan 1;111:465-481. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2017.10.009. Epub 2017 Oct 10.*Corresponding author.
  8. Joseph P. Burnett, Gi Lim, Yanyan Li, Ronak B. Shah, Rebekah Lim, Hayley J. Paholak, Sean P. McDermott, Lichao Sun, Yasuhiro Tsume, Shuhua Bai, Max S. Wicha, Duxin Sun, Tao Zhang*. Sulforaphane Enhances the Anticancer Activity of Taxanes against Triple Negative Breast Cancer by Killing Cancer Stem Cells. Cancer Letters. 2017 Feb 27. *Corresponding author.
  9. Yanyan Li, Katharine Atkinson, Tao Zhang. Combination of chemotherapy and cancer stem cell targeting agents: Preclinical and clinical studies. Cancer Letters. 2017 Mar 12;396:103-109. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2017.03.008.
  10. Wenpeng Zhang, Yanyan Li, Peng Zou, Man Wu, Zhenqing Zhang, Tao Zhang*. The Effects of Pharmaceutical Excipients on Gastrointestinal Tract Metabolic Enzymes and Transporters – an Update. The AAPS Journal. 2016 May 16. DOI: 10.1208/s12248-016-9928-8. *Corresponding author.
  11. Tao Zhang*. Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling of Disposition and Drug-Drug Interactions for Atorvastatin and its Metabolites. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2015 Jun 24; 77:216-229. *Corresponding author
  12. Tao Zhang, Tycho Heimbach, Wen Lin, Jin Zhang, Handan He. Prospective Predictions of Human Pharmacokinetics for Eighteen Compounds. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2015 Sep;104(9):2795-806. doi: 10.1002/jps.24373. Epub 2015 Feb 17.Selected for inclusion in the Gordon L. Amidon Dedicated Issue.
  13. Binfeng Xia, Avantika Barve, Tycho Heimbach, Tao Zhang, Helen Gu, Lai Wang, Heidi Einolf, Natalya Alexander, Imad Hanna, June Ke, James B Mangold, Handan He, Gangadhar Sunkara. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling for assessing the clinical drug-drug interaction of alisporivir. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2014 Oct 15;63:103-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2014.06.021. Epub 2014 Jul 4.
  14. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang. Targeting of cancer stem cells by curcumin and clinical applications. Cancer Letters, 2014 May 1;346(2):197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2014.01.012. Epub 2014 Jan 23.
  15. Fardokht Abulwerdi, Chenzhong Liao, Meilan Liu, Asfar S. Azmi, Amro Aboukameel, Ahmed S.A. Mady,Thippeswamy Gulappa, Tomasz Cierpicki, Scott Owens, Tao Zhang, Duxin Sun, Jeanne A. Stuckey, Ramzi M. Mohammad, and Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska. A Novel Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Mcl-1 Blocks Pancreatic Cancer Growth In vitro and In vivo. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014 Mar; 13 (3): 565-75.
  16. Kathy M Soriano, Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang (2014) African American Females: A Potential Link Between Vitamin D Insufficiency and Type-2 Diabetes. J Nutr Health Food Eng 1(3): 00015.
  17. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Peng Zou, Jing-yu Yu, Donna McEachern, Shaomeng Wang, Duxin Sun. Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Modeling of an Antagonist (SM-406/AT-406) of Multiple Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins (IAPs) in a Mouse Xenograft Model of Human Breast Cancer. Biopharm Drug Dispos 2013 Sep; 34(6): 348-59.
  18. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Xiaoqin Li, Peng Zou, Steven J. Schwartz, Duxin Sun. Kinetics of Sulforaphane in Mice after Consumption of Sulforaphane-Enriched Broccoli Sprout Preparation. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2013 Dec; 57(12):2128-36.
  19. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang. Targeting Cancer Stem Cells by Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component from Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts. Future Oncology 2013 Aug; 9(8):1097-103.
  20. Yanyan Li, G. Elif Karagoz, Young Ho Seo, Tao Zhang, Yiqun Jiang, Yanke Yu, Steven J. Schwartz, Kate Carroll, Stefan Rudiger, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane inhibits Hsp90 function by disrupting Hsp90-Cdc37 complex in pancreatic cancer cells through direct interaction with specific residues. J Nutr Biochem, 2012 Dec; 23(12):1617-26.
  21. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Steven J. Schwartz, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane potentiates the therapeutic efficacy of 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer by enhancing 17-AAG-induced abrogation of Hsp90 chaperone function. Nutrition and Cancer, 2011; 63 (7):1151-9.
  22. Qian Cai, Haiying Sun, Yuefeng Peng, Jianfeng Lu, Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska, Donna McEachern, Liu Liu, Su Qiu, Chao-Yie Yang, Rebecca Miller, Han Yi, Tao Zhang, Duxin Sun, Sanmao Kang, Ming Guo, Lance Leopold, Dajun Yang, and Shaomeng Wang. A Potent and Orally Active Antagonist (SM-406/AT-406) of Multiple Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins (IAPs) in Clinical Development for Cancer Treatment. Med. Chem., 2011; 54(8): 2714-26
  23. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Zhenkun Zhu, Mancang Gu, Bryan Newman, Duxin Sun. MEK inhibition potentiates the activity of Hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer cells. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2010; 7(5): 1576–1584.
  24. Yanyan Li, Tao Zhang, Hasan Korkaya, Suling Liu, Hsiu-Fang Lee, Bryan Newman, Yanke Yu, Shawn G. Clouthier, Steven J. Schwartz, Max S. Wicha, and Duxin Sun. Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells. Clin Cancer Res, 2010; 16(9): 2580-90.
  25. Yiqun Jiang, Denzil Bernard, Yanke Yu, Yehua Xie, Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Xueqi Fu, Shaomeng Wang, and Duxin Sun. Split Renilla Luciferase Protein Fragment-assisted Complementation (SRL-PFAC) to Characterize Hsp90-Cdc37 Complex and Identify Critical Residues in Protein/Protein Interactions. J Biol Chem, 2010; 285(27): 21023–21036.
  26. Yanke Yu, Adel Hamza, Tao Zhang, Mancang Gu, Peng Zou, Bryan Newman, Yanyan Li, A.A. Leslie Gunatilaka, Chang-Guo Zhan, and Duxin Sun. Withaferin A targets heat shock protein 90 in pancreatic cancer cells. Biochem Pharmacol, 2010; 79(4): 542-51.
  27. Justine L. Lam, Ying Jiang, Tao Zhang, Eric Y. Zhang and Bill J. Smith. Expression and Functional Analysis of Hepatic Cytochrome P450s, Nuclear Receptors and Membrane Transporters in 10-week and 25-week old db/db Mice. Drug Metab Dispos, 2010; 38(12): 2252-58.
  28. Tao Zhang, Yanyan Li, Yanke Yu, Peng Zou, Yiqun Jiang, and Duxin Sun. Characterization of celastrol to inhibit Hsp90 and Cdc37 interaction. J Biol Chem, 2009; 284(51): 35381-9.
  29. Yanyan Li*, Tao Zhang*, Yiqun Jiang, Hsiu-Fang Lee, Steven J. Schwartz and Duxin Sun. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate Inhibits Hsp90 Function by Impairing Hsp90 Association with Cochaperones in Pancreatic Cancer Cell Line Mia Paca-2. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2009 Jul-Aug; 6(4):1152-9. *equal authorship
  30. Yanyan Li*, Tao Zhang*, Steven J. Schwartz and Duxin Sun. New developments in Hsp90 inhibitors as anti-cancer therapeutics: Mechanisms, clinical perspective and more potential. Drug Resistance Updates, 2009; 12(1): 17-27. *equal authorship
  31. Cathie D. Xiang, Minerva Batugo, David C. Gale, Tao Zhang, Jingjing Ye, Chunze Li, Sue Zhou, Ellen Y. Wu, and Eric Y. Zhang. Characterization of Human Corneal Epithelial Cell Model as a Surrogate for Corneal Permeability Assessment: Metabolism and Transport. Drug Metab Dispos, 2009; 37(5):992-8.
  32. Tao Zhang, Adel Hamza, Xianhua Cao, Bing Wang, Shuwen Yu, Chang-Guo Zhan and Duxin Sun. A novel Hsp90 inhibitor to disrupt Hsp90/Cdc37 complex against pancreatic cancer cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2008 7: 162-170
  33. Tao Zhang, Cathie D. Xiang, David Gale, Samantha Carreiro, Ellen Y. Wu, and Eric Y. Zhang. Drug Transporter and Cytochrome P450 mRNA Expression in Human Ocular Barriers: Implications for Ocular Drug Disposition. Drug Metab Dispos, 2008; 36(7):1300-7.
  34. Xianhua Cao, Mark Bloomston, Tao Zhang, Wendy L. Frankel, Guang Jia, Bing Wang, Nathan C. Hall, Regina M. Koch, Hao Cheng, Michael V. Knopp and Duxin Sun. Synergistic Antipancreatic Tumor Effect by Simultaneously Targeting Hypoxic Cancer Cells with HSP90 Inhibitor and Glycolysis Inhibitor. Clin Cancer Res, 2008 Mar 15;14(6):1831-9.
  35. Xianhua Cao, Guang Jia, Tao Zhang, Ming Yang, Bing Wang, Peter A. Wassenaar, Hao Cheng, Michael V. Knopp and Duxin Sun. Non-invasive MRI tumor imaging and synergistic anticancer effect of HSP90 inhibitor and glycolysis inhibitor in RIP1-Tag2 transgenic pancreatic tumor model. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol, 2008 Nov;62(6):985-94.
  36. Huifei Cui, Jie Shen, Dongning Lu, Tao Zhang, Wenpeng Zhang, Duxin Sun and Peng George Wang. 4-Aryl-1,3,2-oxathiazolylium-5-olate: a novel GST inhibitor to release JNK and activate c-Jun for cancer therapy. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol, 2008 Aug;62(3):509-15.
  37. Di Guo, Xiaorong Gao , Hao Li, Tao Zhang, Lijia An and Ning LI. EGY1 plays a role in regulation of endodermal plastid size and number that are involved in ethylene-dependent gravitropism of light-grown Arabidopsis hypocotyls. Plant Molecular Biology, 2008; 66, 345-360.