Jiangjiang (Chris) Zhu receives 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award

​Jiangjiang "Chris" Zhu, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Human Sciences department, and a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, has earned The Ohio State University 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge surprised Zhu with the honor during a recent virtual department meeting.     

“Thank you very much, this is a big surprise,” said Zhu, upon learning of his award. “The right plant has to grow in the right soil, and I think I found a nice place to grow my scientific ideas with everyone in the program and department.”


Specializing in metabolomics studies for cancer and nutritional research that aims to improve human health, his current research includes studying host-microbiota metabolic interactions and the critical roles of nutritional components in modulating such interactions, as well as investigating the impact of therapeutic modulation of gut microbes to metabolic diseases and cancer patients.

“Dr. Zhu is working to help us better detect and understand complicated disease mechanisms,” said Cynthia Carnes, senior associate vice president for research operations. “His collaboration across several university colleges and departments to improve lives is the embodiment of true interdisciplinary research.” 

“From his high impact publications to his remarkable success in obtaining grant funding, Chris is an absolute superstar in the research arena,” said Erik Porfeli, PhD, Department of Human Sciences chair.  “In the context of all this success, Chris is also remarkably humble and dedicated to supporting the success of his students and his colleagues.”

"Your expertise in metabolomics has stimulated much collaboration and enthusiasm to nutrition science,” said Richard Bruno, PhD, RD, Human Nutrition Program chair. “When I look at the number of people you collaborate with, it is so far and wide between nutrition, food science, medicine, cancer chemoprevention and everywhere in between. It seems that you are influencing everybody to get interested in metabolomics-based research."

Zhu is a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program in the Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Foods for Health Discovery Theme. He is developing a multiplex mass spectrometry-based metabolomics platform for cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring, as well as for nutritional research that benefits human health. In addition to holding a patent for biomarkers for detecting and monitoring colon cancer, he has co-authored more than 80 articles in well-respected publications. He received the College of Education and Human Ecology Distinguished Research Award in 2022 and an NIH/NIGMS Maximizing Investigators' Research Award for Early-Stage Investigators. Prior to coming to Ohio State, Zhu served as an assistant professor at Miami University. He earned his doctorate in Environmental Engineering at the University of Vermont, and was a senior fellow at the University of Washington. He completed his master’s and bachelor’s degrees at Donghua University.

The Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded to early career faculty at Ohio State. The university-level award honors three to four faculty members who are assistant or early associate professors who show promise of making significant contributions to Ohio State and their field for years to come. Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Distinguished scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. 

Quotes from Zhu’s nomination:   

“Dr. Zhu represents a ‘new generation’ of nutrition scientist that effectively bridges cutting edge analytics with biological function. Dr. Zhu has done some of the seminal work with methods for assessing the metabolome and volatilome, and importantly has advanced the field by applying these methods to understand the impact of nutrients and foods on the microbiome and human health. He should be considered a rising star and has received significant distinction in the field as an early-stage career faculty.” Emily Ho, Oregon State University.

“Although his research is clearly building upon his graduate and postdoc research experiences, I see clear signs of innovation and originality. Chris’ research addresses both new improved methods for making mass spectrometric measurements (including secondary electrospray ionization for volatilomics, particularly of bacteria) as well as applications of these techniques to biomedical problems, including cancer…Chris is publishing solid research articles; I have read several of his manuscripts, and fully recognize that they are significant additions to the scientific literature, both informative reviews and cutting-edge research reports.” Richard Yost, University of Florida

“Dr. Zhu has made significant contributions to the development of new metabolomics approaches and in vitro gut microbial metabolism techniques. Given the growing body of data demonstrating the interconnectedness of biological systems (and the limitations of “one variable at a time” approaches) as well as the importance of the gut microbiota to human health and disease, Dr. Zhu’s work is of considerable value to the field.” Joshua Lambert, Penn State University.