New Faculty

Dr. Zhen Ren joins the Department of Medicine

Dr. Zhen Ren joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology as an Instructor on July 1, 2019.

Dr. Ren studied clinical medicine at Shanghai Tong Ji University, China. Fascinated by the cutting-edge bioscience research in the United States, she joined the Biochemistry Ph.D program in August 2006 at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her Ph.D research was primarily focused on protein structure and function.

In July 2013, she started her Internal Medicine residency at Jacobi Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. During her residency training, Allergy/Immunology electives were her favorite rotation and she became highly interested in the field. From 2013 to 2016, she was involved in Dr. Jerschow’s translational research program investigating the mechanism of aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD). The research results were selected for an oral presentation at AAAAI 2015 annual meeting and published in JACI: in practice and Annals of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

In July 2016, Dr. Ren joined the Allergy/Immunology Fellowship Program at WUSM where she received comprehensive clinical training in a broad range of both pediatric and adult allergic/immunologic diseases. During her second and third year of fellowship, she started working in Dr. Atkinson’s lab. Her research is mainly focused on complement dysregulation in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). She completed her fellowship on June 30th 2019, and is looking forward to continuing her work in the Allergy/Immunology Division at WUSM. She obtained Board Certification in Allergy/Immunology in November 2018. With great support from the Division, she started her clinic in December 2018. As an Allergist/Immunologist she helps patients with complex allergic diseases and rare immunological disorders.

Drawing upon her experience both in basic science and medical research, Dr. Ren is also interested in developing a career in translational research. Investigating complement dysregulation is one of her research interests. She would like to continue working on this project with Dr. Atkinson’s guidance, but with a gradual transition to a focus on Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) and its variants.

The research project she would like to work on is to investigate the pathophysiology of HAE. HAE is a rare autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the C1 esterase inhibitor (C1INH) gene. A majority of patients have deficiency of or defects in C1INH. A recent study in a group of Danish patients has revealed a new mechanism of HAE that a few specific mutations in C1INH can lead to C1INH protein aggregates inside of cells. Dr. Wedner is a leading expert in treating patients with HAE. She would like to collaborate with Dr. Wedner, Dr. Atkinson and Genomics and Pathology Services to analyze genetic mutations in HAE patients at WUSM. It will be a great opportunity for her to apply her knowledge and skills in protein science to study the genetic variants of C1INH in the patient population.