Shaoping Zhang, DDS, MS, PhD

Contact Information

Office: N401 DSB
Phone: 319-335-7386
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research: 

Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on assessing the reciprocal relationship of inflammation in diabetes and periodontal disease. Periodontitis, a severe and irreversible form of periodontal (gum) disease that destroys tooth supporting tissue in the oral cavity, affects almost 50% of adult Americans. Periodontitis is clinically linked to diabetes through inflammation. Effective therapy that halts the progression of periodontitis improves A1C in diabetic subjects. Dr. Zhang’s research aims to understand how epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation and histone modifications, may explain the link between diabetes and periodontal inflammation. This line of research may contribute to new therapies or treatment modalities for periodontal disease by reversing diabetes-associated epigenetic influence. Dr. Zhang’s lab is also studying host-pathogen interactions at the gingival-mucosal surface. Analysis of a genome wide association study (GWAS) demonstrated that the genetic variants of a key adaptor protein in interleukin-17 pathway, ACT1, are significantly associated with a periodontal inflammation phenotype defined by a high pathogen burden in plaque and local inflammation. With an NIDCR grant, Dr. Zhang is actively investigating the role of ACT1 engaged IL-17 signaling activities in modulating plaque microbial community structure, gingival epithelial barrier function, and periodontal disease.

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications"

  • Offenbacher S, Jiao Y, Kim SJ, Marchesan J, Moss KL, Jing L, Divaris K, Bencharit S, Agler CS, Morelli T, Zhang S, Sun L, Seaman WT, Cowley D, Barros SP, Beck JD, Munz M, Schaefer AS, North KE. GWAS for Interleukin-1β levels in gingival crevicular fluid identifies IL37 variants in periodontal inflammation. Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 11;9(1):3686. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05940-9. PubMed PMID: 30206230; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6134146.

  • Marchesan J, Girnary MS, Jing L, Miao MZ, Zhang S, Sun L, Morelli T, Schoenfisch MH, Inohara N, Offenbacher S, Jiao Y. An experimental murine model to study periodontitis. Nat Protoc. 2018 Sep 14. doi: 10.1038/s41596-018-0035-4.

  • Zhang S, Barros SP, Moretti AJ, Yu N, Zhou J, Preisser JS, Niculescu MD, Offenbacher S. Epigenetic regulation of TNFA expression in periodontal disease. J Periodontol. 2013 Nov;84(11):1606-16. doi: 10.1902/jop.2013.120294. Epub 2013 Jan 31. PubMed PMID: 23368949; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3986590.


As one of the most common inflmmatory disease in humans, periodontitis (gum disease) is closely associated with diabetes. I am trying to understand the inflammatory link between the two chronic diseases and seeking novel interventional measures to improve both oral and systemic health of diabetic patients.