Zhanghua Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences

Image of Zhanghua Chen, PhD
Is this your profile? Click to edit


Dr. Zhanghua Chen is an environmental epidemiologist and biostatistician with multidisciplinary expertise in environmental health, biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical medicine, obesity and diabetes pathophysiology, genomics, metabolomics, and data science. She has a strong track record in environmental health research with particular interests in the health effects of early-life environmental exposures in children and adults, the epidemiology of diabetes and obesity, and methods of multi-omics studies.

Dr. Chen aims to contribute her research to early prevention and treatment of complex diseases. She is creative, collaborative and highly productive. She is establishing a novel research area in environmental epidemiology by leveraging the advanced metabolomics and multi-omics approaches. Dr. Chen is the principal investigator on the NIEHS-supported K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award: “Metabolomic Signatures Linking Air Pollution, Obesity and Diabetes”. She has also published many papers in well-received medical journals such as Diabetes Care and American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Her accomplishments in environmental health research have received wide media attention from national and international news agencies, e.g., Reuters and Xinhua News Agency.


  • Dysregulated lipid and fatty acid metabolism link perfluoroalkyl substances exposure and impaired glucose metabolism in young adults Environ Int. 2020 12; 145:106091. . View in PubMed
  • The Early Growth Genetics (EGG) and EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) consortia: design, results and future prospects Eur J Epidemiol. 2019 Mar; 34(3):279-300. . View in PubMed
  • Near-roadway air pollution exposure and altered fatty acid oxidation among adolescents and young adults – The interplay with obesity Environ Int. 2019 09; 130:104935. . View in PubMed
  • Perfluoroalkyl substances, metabolomic profiling, and alterations in glucose homeostasis among overweight and obese Hispanic children: A proof-of-concept analysis Environ Int. 2019 05; 126:445-453. . View in PubMed
  • Ambient and Traffic-Related Air Pollution Exposures as Novel Risk Factors for Metabolic Dysfunction and Type 2 Diabetes Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2018 Jun; 5(2):79-91. . View in PubMed
  • Gene Coexpression Networks in Whole Blood Implicate Multiple Interrelated Molecular Pathways in Obesity in People with Asthma Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 12; 26(12):1938-1948. . View in PubMed
  • Test-retest reliability of longitudinal task-based fMRI: Implications for developmental studies Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2018 10; 33:17-26. . View in PubMed
  • Eur Respir J. 2018 09; 52(3). . View in PubMed
  • Genome-wide association and HLA fine-mapping studies identify risk loci and genetic pathways underlying allergic rhinitis Nat Genet. 2018 08; 50(8):1072-1080. . View in PubMed
  • Exposure to traffic-related air pollution and the composition of the gut microbiota in overweight and obese adolescents Environ Res. 2018 02; 161:472-478. . View in PubMed
  • Longitudinal associations of in utero and early life near-roadway air pollution with trajectories of childhood body mass index Environ Health. 2018 09 14; 17(1):64. . View in PubMed
  • Regional and Traffic-related Air Pollutants Are Associated with Higher Consumption of High Fat and Fast Food among Adolescents The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018; 109(1):99-108. . View in PubMed
  • Longitudinal Associations Between Ambient Air Pollution With Insulin Sensitivity, ß-Cell Function, and Adiposity in Los Angeles Latino Children Diabetes. 2017 07; 66(7):1789-1796. . View in PubMed
  • Effects of Childhood Asthma on the Development of Obesity among School-aged Children Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017 05 01; 195(9):1181-1188. . View in PubMed
  • Ambient Air Pollutants Have Adverse Effects on Insulin and Glucose Homeostasis in Mexican Americans Diabetes Care. 2016 Apr; 39(4):547-54. . View in PubMed
  • Breathing Intolerance Index (BIT) and its Relation to Exercise Data: Noninvasive Assessment of Inspiratory Muscle Endurance during Rest and Exercise in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Cardiovascular Disorders Insight Medical Publishing Journals. 2016; 2(1). . View in PubMed
  • Influence factors of estimation errors for total corneal astigmatism using keratometric astigmatism in patients before cataract surgery J Cataract Refract Surg. 2016 Jan; 42(1):84-94. . View in PubMed
  • Living near a freeway is associated with lower bone mineral density among Mexican Americans Osteoporos Int. 2015 Jun; 26(6):1713-21. . View in PubMed
  • Chronic effects of air pollution on respiratory health in Southern California children: findings from the Southern California Children’s Health Study J Thorac Dis. 2015 Jan; 7(1):46-58. . View in PubMed
  • High calorie intake is associated with worsening insulin resistance and ß-cell function in Hispanic women after gestational diabetes mellitus Diabetes Care. 2014 Dec; 37(12):3294-300. . View in PubMed
  • Joint effects of known type 2 diabetes susceptibility loci in genome-wide association study of Singapore Chinese: the Singapore Chinese health study PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e87762. . View in PubMed
  • Self-reported physical activity is associated with ß-cell function in Mexican American adults Diabetes Care. 2013 Mar; 36(3):638-44. . View in PubMed
  • Breathing Intolerance Index in COPD and Obesity: A Comparative Observational Study Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases. 2013; 3(3). . View in PubMed
  • Expiratory Flow Limitation in Obstructive Sleep Apnea and COPD: A Quantitative Method to Detect Pattern Differences Using the Negative Expiratory Pressure Technique Open Respir Med J. 2012; 6:111-20. . View in PubMed