550 Stadium Mall Drive
Professor, School of Health Sciences
Fellow, U.S. Academy of Toxicological Sciences
Former President, Int'l Society for Trace Element Research in Humans (2015-2021)
Former Head, School of Health Sciences (2008-2017)
Areas of Expertise
- To explore mechanisms by which lead (Pb) exposure alters beta-amyloid transport by brain barrier systems and affects the homeostasis of beta-amyloid in the central milieu, leading to cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) in Alzheimer’s disease.
- To explore mechanisms, biomarkers and chelation therapy of manganese (Mn)-induced Parkinsonian disorder, by using laboratory animal models, human cohorts and noninvasive technical assessment of cumulative Mn in human bones.
- To explore the role of copper (Cu) in adult neurogenesis in subventricular zone (SVZ) and to understand how the choroid plexus in brain ventricles contributes to the regulation of adult neurogenesis in adjacent SVZ.
- Transport of substances (metals, polypeptides, and drug molecules) by the blood-brain barrier and blood-CSF barrier.
HHS Signature Research Area(s)
- Healthy Lifestyles and Vital Longevity
School of Health Sciences Research Area(s)
Dr. Wei Zheng started his academic career in New York City initially as an Assistant Professor (1993-2000) and later Associate Professor (2000-2003) in School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He joined Purdue University in 2003 and became a Full Professor in 2006. Having served a decade as the former head of the School of Health Sciences (2008-2017), Dr. Zheng returned to his research on metal-induced neurodegenerative diseases and his passion to train students for their successes.
Dr. Zheng’s research focuses on contributions of the brain barrier systems, especially the blood-CSF barrier in the choroid plexus, in metal-induced neurodegenerative disorders. His major scientific contributions include: (1) his original research leading to the establishment of a new research field widely recognized as “Toxicology of Brain Barrier Systems”; (2) his translational research from the lab to human cohorts for biomarker discovery and clinical treatment of Mn-induced Parkinsonian disorder; (3) his original discovery of a distinct function of Pb in the formation of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Zheng’s research has been supported by continuous NIH R01 grants (since 1994), U.S. Department of Defense contracts, and other awards from pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly.
- PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology, 1991, University of Arizona
- MS in Pharmacology, 1984, Zhejiang University
- BS in Pharmacy, 1981, Zhejiang University
- HSCI 101 - Introduction to Health Sciences Professions
- HSCI 360 - Everyday Toxicology: Poisonings from Clinics to Courtrooms
- HSCI 290 - Teaching Experience in Heath Sciences Professions
- Fellow, the U.S. Academy of Toxicological Sciences - 2016
- Education Award, Society of Toxicology - 2021
- Career Achievement Award, the Society of Toxicology Metals Specialty Section - 2015
- Career Research Achievement Award, Purdue University/HHS - 2020
- Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award, Purdue University/HHS - 2017
- Principal Investigator; Lead Exposure and Beta-Amyloid Transport by Brain Barriers. National Institute of Environmental Health (R01 ES027078). Period: 07/01/2017-06/30/2022. Total: $1,919,925.
- Co-Investigator, Imaging Biomarkers of Neurotoxicity in Welders. National Institute on Aging (R01 AG021488). Brad Racette (PI). Period: 07/01/2021 - 06/30/2026. Total: $2,120,096.
- Co-Investigator, The Pathogenic Role of Lead in Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy and AD. National Institute on Aging (R21 AG067923). Yansheng Du and Paul Territo (MPI). Period: 02/01/2020 - 11/30/2022. Total: 446,443.
- Principal Investigator; Development of a High Through-Put System for Study of Transport of Drugs across Brain Barriers. Johnson & Johnson Corp. (2003111191). Period: unlimited. Total: $255,000
- Member of Society of Toxicology since 1994. President of the Metals Specialty Section (2009-2010); Chair of the Board of Publication (2016-2019)
- Member of International Society for Trace Elements Research in Humans (ISTERH). Vice President-Elect (2015), Vice President (2017), President (2019), Acting President (2021-2022). Chairman of the Int’l Scientific Committee for the 14th Conference in Aachen, GE (2022).
- Founding member of American Association for Chinese in Toxicology (AACT), President (1991-1992)