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Shuang (George) Zhao, MD

Assistant Professor

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Human Oncology. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science & Engineering with a focus on Intelligent Systems at the University of Michigan. I then completed my MD at the University of Michigan Medical School. After a transitional year internship at Beaumont Hospital – Dearborn, I returned to the University of Michigan for residency training in radiation oncology. Under the American Board of Radiology’s Holman Pathway, I led multiple cancer genomics and biomarker studies under the mentorship of Dr. Felix Feng. As a physician-scientist, my clinical focus is on the treatment of patients with GU malignancies. My independent translational research laboratory focuses on using advances in sequencing and computational techniques to develop biomarkers of treatment response and resistance, primarily in prostate cancer. I co-direct the UWCCC Circulating Biomarker Core with Dr. Josh Lang, where we work on translating liquid biopsy technology into the clinic.


Residency, University of Michigan, Radiation Oncology (2020)

MD, University of Michigan, Medicine (2015)

MSE, University of Michigan, Computer Science and Engineering (2010)

BSE, University of Michigan, Computer Science and Engineering (2009)

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Human Oncology (2020)

Co-director, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center Circulating Biomarker Core (2020)

Selected Honors and Awards

Roentgen Resident/Fellow Research Award (2020)

Radiation Research Society Scholar-in-Training Travel Award (2018)

MRS Resident Conference & Research Forum Radiation Oncology Abstract Award (2017)

ASTRO Resident Clinical/Basic Science Research Award in Biology (2015)

Dean’s Merit Scholarship, University of Michigan Medical School (2010-15)

William L. Everitt Award of Excellence, University of Michigan (2009)

James B. Angell Scholar, University of Michigan (2009)

Engineering Scholarship of Honor, University of Michigan (2005-09)

Pfizer Corporate Merit Scholarship, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (2005-09 )

Michigan Merit Award, State of Michigan (2005)

Regents Merit Scholarship, University of Michigan (2005)

Research Focus

GU malignancies

Biomarkers to personalize treatment in cancer 

In the Zhao Lab, we focus on developing novel clinical biomarkers that predict response and resistance to specific therapies in prostate cancer and other malignancies. These biomarkers can be used to better select which patients derive a benefit from treatment, which patients do not and can be spared potential toxicity, as well as monitor for emergence of resistance. We seek to use advanced sequencing and computational technologies to better personalize the care of cancer patients.

Predictive biomarkers

Treatment decisions for cancer has historically been based on tissue of origin and other pathologic and clinical variables which give prognostic information on the overall level of aggressiveness of a tumor. Predictive biomarkers on the other hand are used to predict response to specific treatments, rather than overall prognosis. Such biomarkers have high clinical utility in deciding the optimal treatment approach for an individual patient. Our laboratory seeks to leverage advances in molecular medicine to identify new predictive biomarkers for standard and emerging cancer therapies. In collaboration with the UWCCC Circulating Biomarker Core, we are also working on developing a liquid biopsy platform for molecular analysis.

predictive biomarkers graphs

  1. SG Zhao*, SL Chang*, DE Spratt, N Erho, M Yu, HA Ashab, M Alshalalfa, C Speers, SA Tomlins, E Davicioni, AP Dicker, PR Carroll, MR Cooperberg, SJ Freedland, RJ Karnes, A Ross, EM Schaeffer, RB Den, PL Nguyen, FY Feng. The development and validation of a 24-gene predictor of response to post-operative radiation therapy in prostate cancer: a matched retrospective analysis. Lancet Oncology. PMID 27743920. *Co-first authorship, Co-senior authorship
  2. SG Zhao*, SL Chang*, N Erho, M Yu, J Lehrer, M Alshalalfa, C Speers, MR Cooperberg, W Kim, CJ Ryan, RB Den, SJ Freedland, E Posadas, H Sandler, EA Klein, P Black, R Seiler, SA Tomlins, AM Chinnaiyan MD, RB Jenkins, E Davicioni, AE Ross, EM Schaeffer, PL Nguyen, PR Carroll, RJ Karnes, DE Spratt, FY Feng. Associations of luminal and basal subtyping of prostate cancer with prognosis and response to androgen deprivation therapy. JAMA Oncology. PMID 28494073. *Co-first authorship, Co-senior authorship
  3. SG Zhao, M Yu, DE Spratt, SL Chang, FY Feng, MM Kim, CW Speers, BL Carlson, AC Mladek, TS Lawrence, JN Sarkaria, DR Wahl. Development and validation of xenograft-based platform-independent gene signatures that predict response to alkylating chemotherapy, radiation, and combination therapy in patients with glioblastoma. Neuro-Oncology. PMID 31121035.

Insights from clinical next-generation sequencing

Integrated multi-omic next-generation sequencing on clinical samples allows for a global view of the landscape of molecular alterations that drive cancer progression and treatment resistance. Our lab analyzes correlative sequencing data from clinical cohorts and trials to better understand the the molecular underpinnings of the clinical behavior of tumors.

  1. SG Zhao*, W Chen*, H Li*, A Foye, M Zhang, M Sjöstrjöm, R Aggarwal, D Playdle, A Liao, JJ Alumkal, R Das, J Chou, JT Hua, TJ Barnard, AM Bailey, E Chow, M Perry, HX Dang, R Yang, R Moussavi-Baygi, L Zhang, M Alshalalfa, SL Chang, KE Houlahan, YJ Shiah, TM Beer, G Thomas, KN Chi, M Gleave, A Zoubeidi, RE Reiter, MB Rettig, O Witte, Y Kim, L Fong, DE Spratt, TM Morgan, R Bose, FW Huang, H Li, L Chesner, T Shenoy, H Goodazi, IA Asangani, S Sandhu, JM Lang, PN Lara, N Mahajan, CP Evans, P Febbo, S Batzoglou, KE Knudsen, HH He, J Huang, W Zwart, JF Costello, J Luo, SA Tomlins, AW Wyatt, SM Dehm, A Ashworth, LA Gilbert, P Boutros, K Farh, AM Chinnaiyan, CA Maher, EJ Small, DA Quigley, FY Feng. Hallmarks of epigenomic regulation in advanced prostate cancer. In submission. Nature Genetics. PMID 32661416. *Co-first authorship, Co-senior authorship
  2. DA Quigley*, HX Dang*, SG Zhao*, P Lloyd, R Aggarwal, JJ Alumkal, A Foye, V Kothari, M Perry, AM Bailey, D Playdle, TJ Barnard, L Zhang, J Zhang, JF Youngren, MP Cieslik, A Parolia, TM Beer, G Thomas, KN Chi, M Gleave, N Lack, A Zoubeidi, RE Reiter, M Rettig, O Witte, CJ Ryan, L Fong, W Kim, T Friedlander, J Chou, H Li, R Das, H Li, R Moussavi-Baygi, H Goodarzi, LA Gilbert, P Lara, CP Evans, TC Goldstein, JM Stuart, SA Tomlins, DE Spratt, RK Cheetham, DT Cheng, K Farh, JS Gehring, J Hakenberg, A Liao, P Febbo, J Shon, S Batzoglou, KE Knudsen, HH He, J Huang, AW Wyatt, SM Dehm, A Ashworth, AM Chinnaiyan, CA Maher, EJ Small, FY Feng. Genomic hallmarks and structural variation in metastatic prostate cancer. Cell. PMID 30033370. *Co-first authorship, Co-senior authorship
  3. SG Zhao*, WS Chen*, R Das, SL Chang, SA Tomlins, J Chou, DA Quigley, H Dang, T Barnard, BA Mahal, EA Gibb, Y Liu, E Davicioni, LR Duska, E Posadas, S Jolly, DE Spratt, PL Nguyen, CA Maher, EJ Small, FY Feng. Clinical and genomic implications of luminal and basal subtypes across carcinomas. Clinical Cancer Research. PMID 30573691. *Co-first authorship
  4. JR Prensner*, S Zhao*, N Erho, M Schipper, MK Iyer, SM Dhanasekaran, C Magi-Galluzzi, R Mehra, A Sahu, J Siddiqui, E Davicioni, RB Den, AP Dicker, RJ Karnes, JT Wei, EA Klein, RB Jenkins, AM Chinnaiyan, FY Feng. RNA biomarkers associated with metastatic progression in prostate cancer: a multi-institutional high-throughput analysis of SChLAP1. Lancet Oncology. PMID 25456366. *Co-first authorship

Computational approaches

High-throughput sequencing techniques can generate an enormous amount of data. Machine-learning is the branch of computer science specifically focused on identifying important patterns in that are too complex for humans to independently identify. Our laboratory seeks to leverage machine learning and other advanced computational approaches to develop models for both clinical endpoints and biological pathways.

  1. SG Zhao, J Lehrer, SL Chang, R Das, N Erho, Y Liu, M Sjöström, RB Den, SJ Freedland, EA Klein, RJ Karnes, EM Schaeffer, M Xu, C Speers, PL Nguyen, AE Ross, JM Chan, MR Cooperberg, PR Carroll, E Davicioni, L Fong, DE Spratt, FY Feng. The immune landscape of prostate cancer and nomination of PD-L2 as a potential therapeutic target. J Natl Cancer Inst. PMID 30321406.
  2. SG Zhao*, JR Evans*, V Kothari, G Sun, A Larm, V Mondine, EM Schaeffer, AE Ross, EA Klein, RB Den, AP Dicker, RJ Karnes, N Erho, PL Nguyen, E Davicioni, FY Feng. The landscape of prognostic outlier genes in high-risk prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. PMID 26631616. *Co-first authorship
  3. JR Evans*, SG Zhao*, SL Chang, SA Tomlins, N Erho, A Sboner, MJ Schiewer, DE Spratt, V Kothari, EA Klein, RB Den, AP Dicker, RJ Karnes, X Yu, PL Nguyen, MA Rubin, J de Bono, KE Knudsen, E Davicioni, FY Feng. Patient-level DNA damage and repair pathway profiles and prognosis after prostatectomy for High-Risk Prostate Cancer. JAMA Oncology. PMID 26746117. *Co-first authorship
  4. C Speers*, S Zhao*, H Bartelink, M Liu, LJ Pierce, FY Feng. Development and validation of a novel radiosensitivity signature in human breast cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. PMID 25904749. *Co-first authorship,Co-senior authorship


Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award (2015-2018). Investigating Long Noncoding RNAs in Aggressive Prostate Cancer. Role: Principal Investigator

  • The DNA methylation landscape of advanced prostate cancer
  • Tumor Immune Microenvironment Clusters in Localized Prostate Adenocarcinoma: Prognostic Impact of Macrophage Enriched/Plasma Cell Non-Enriched Subtypes
  • A Signature That May Be Predictive of Early Versus Late Recurrence After Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer That May Inform the Biology of Early, Aggressive Recurrences
  • Performance of clinicopathologic models in men with high risk localized prostate cancer: impact of a 22-gene genomic classifier
  • Genomic and clinical characterization of stromal infiltration markers in prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer incidence across stage, NCCN risk groups, and age before and after USPSTF Grade D recommendations against prostate-specific antigen screening in 2012
  • Germline polymorphisms associated with impaired survival outcomes and somatic tumor alterations in advanced prostate cancer
  • Clinicogenomic Radiotherapy Classifier Predicting the Need for Intensified Locoregional Treatment After Breast-Conserving Surgery for Early-Stage Breast Cancer
  • Transcriptomic Heterogeneity of Androgen Receptor Activity Defines a de novo low AR-Active Subclass in Treatment Naïve Primary Prostate Cancer
  • DNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Drives Prostate Cancer Progression through Transcriptional Regulation of the Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • Conservative management of low-risk prostate cancer among young versus older men in the United States: Trends and outcomes from a novel national database
  • Transcriptomic and Clinical Characterization of Neuropeptide Y Expression in Localized and Metastatic Prostate Cancer: Identification of Novel Prostate Cancer Subtype with Clinical Implications
  • Xenograft-based platform-independent gene signatures to predict response to alkylating chemotherapy, radiation, and combination therapy for glioblastoma
  • Active Surveillance for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer in Black Patients
  • Impact of Biochemical Failure After Salvage Radiation Therapy on Prostate Cancer-specific Mortality: Competition Between Age and Time to Biochemical Failure
  • Novel RB1-Loss Transcriptomic Signature Is Associated with Poor Clinical Outcomes across Cancer Types
  • Genomic Drivers of Poor Prognosis and Enzalutamide Resistance in Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer
  • MEK-ERK signaling is a therapeutic target in metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer
  • Prostate Cancer Genomic-risk Differences Between African-American and White Men Across Gleason Scores
  • Clinical and Genomic Implications of Luminal and Basal Subtypes Across Carcinomas
  • PARP-1 regulates DNA repair factor availability
  • The Immune Landscape of Prostate Cancer and Nomination of PD-L2 as a Potential Therapeutic Target
  • Genomic Hallmarks and Structural Variation in Metastatic Prostate Cancer
  • The Diverse Genomic Landscape of Clinically Low-risk Prostate Cancer
  • Development and Validation of a Prostate Cancer Genomic Signature that Predicts Early ADT Treatment Response Following Radical Prostatectomy
  • Development and Validation of a Novel Integrated Clinical-Genomic Risk Group Classification for Localized Prostate Cancer
  • Androgen receptor as a mediator and biomarker of radioresistance in triple-negative breast cancer
  • Individual Patient Data Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials: Impact of Black Race on Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer Outcomes
  • Genome-wide CRISPR screen identifies HNRNPL as a prostate cancer dependency regulating RNA splicing
  • Associations of Luminal and Basal Subtyping of Prostate Cancer With Prognosis and Response to Androgen Deprivation Therapy
  • Individual Patient-Level Meta-Analysis of the Performance of the Decipher Genomic Classifier in High-Risk Men After Prostatectomy to Predict Development of Metastatic Disease
  • Anatomical patterns of recurrence following biochemical relapse after post-prostatectomy salvage radiation therapy: a multi-institutional study
  • MicroRNA-194 Promotes Prostate Cancer Metastasis by Inhibiting SOCS2
  • RB Loss Promotes Prostate Cancer Metastasis
  • Glioblastoma Therapy Can Be Augmented by Targeting IDH1-Mediated NADPH Biosynthesis
  • Correlation of B7-H3 with androgen receptor, immune pathways and poor outcome in prostate cancer: an expression-based analysis
  • Development and validation of a 24-gene predictor of response to postoperative radiotherapy in prostate cancer: a matched, retrospective analysis
  • Cell cycle-coupled expansion of AR activity promotes cancer progression
  • The lncRNA landscape of breast cancer reveals a role for DSCAM-AS1 in breast cancer progression
  • Very Early Salvage Radiotherapy Improves Distant Metastasis-Free Survival
  • Multi-institutional Analysis Shows that Low PCAT-14 Expression Associates with Poor Outcomes in Prostate Cancer
  • Maternal Embryonic Leucine Zipper Kinase (MELK) as a Novel Mediator and Biomarker of Radioresistance in Human Breast Cancer
  • Independent validation of the prognostic capacity of the ISUP prostate cancer grade grouping system for radiation treated patients with long-term follow-up
  • Independent surgical validation of the new prostate cancer grade-grouping system
  • Patient-Level DNA Damage and Repair Pathway Profiles and Prognosis After Prostatectomy for High-Risk Prostate Cancer
  • The Landscape of Prognostic Outlier Genes in High-Risk Prostate Cancer
  • Maintaining physical activity during head and neck cancer treatment: Results of a pilot controlled trial
  • Patient-reported quality of life after stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), and brachytherapy
  • DNA-PKcs-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation Drives Prostate Cancer Progression and Metastasis
  • Endothelial CXCR7 regulates breast cancer metastasis
  • High-throughput transcriptomic analysis nominates proteasomal genes as age-specific biomarkers and therapeutic targets in prostate cancer
  • Development and validation of a novel platform-independent metastasis signature in human breast cancer
  • Characterization of 1577 primary prostate cancers reveals novel biological and clinicopathologic insights into molecular subtypes
  • Development and Validation of a Novel Radiosensitivity Signature in Human Breast Cancer
  • The landscape of long noncoding RNAs in the human transcriptome
  • RNA biomarkers associated with metastatic progression in prostate cancer: a multi-institutional high-throughput analysis of SChLAP1
  • Etanercept plus topical corticosteroids as initial therapy for grade one acute graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation
  • Engraftment syndrome after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation predicts poor outcomes
  • A Comprehensive Analysis of CXCL12 Isoforms in Breast Cancer(1,2)

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