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Zhang, Qijing

Published onNov 09, 2021
Zhang, Qijing

(April 29, 1963 — )

Quick Facts

Qijing Zhang is a microbiologist, educator and researcher.


Qijing Zhang was born in China in 1963. He was educated at Shandong Agricultural University in the People’s Republic of China where he earned a BA Sc degree in veterinary medicine (1983). He subsequently received a master of science degree in veterinary microbiology in 1986 from the National Institute Veterinary Biologics in Beijing before coming to the United States and Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Here he graduated in 1994 with a PhD in immunobiology and then served as a postdoctoral fellow in molecular microbiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1994 to 1997.

Zhang’s professional career in the United States includes faculty positions at The Ohio State University and Iowa State University. He joined the College of Veterinary Medicine faculty in 2003, promoted to the rank of professor in 2008. Zhang has served as the college’s associate dean for research and graduate studies since 2012. He is also the Frank K. Ramsey Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine and in 2018 was named a Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Medicine.

As a renowned microbiologist, Zhang has built a world-class research program on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and food safety. His expertise in this area has earned him international acclaim, especially in areas related to antibiotic resistance development, persistence, transmission from animal reservoirs to humans, and mitigation strategies. A pioneer in the effort to understand mechanisms involved in the emergence, persistence and fitness of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter, a major zoonotic pathogen worldwide, Zhang and his research group was among the first to document antibiotic resistance development and the impact of antibiotic resistance on bacterial fitness. His work is so well-respected that it was used as a resource for policy making by the Federal Drug Administrator in regulating the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry production in the United States. Zhang also discovered the novel role of a key multidrug efflux pump in antibiotic resistance and bacterial colonization. This was a breakthrough in understanding the natural function of multidrug efflux transporters and provided a potential target for the control of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

He and his collaborators discovered the New Delhi Metallo-B-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) gene and the multi-resistance gene cfr in bacteria of food-producing animals. These discoveries revealed the potential for zoonotic transmission of these multi-drug resistane mechanisms via the food chain, which has important implications for food safety and control of resistance to medically important antibiotics such as carbapenems and oxazolidones.

Zhang’s contributions also include the identification of a highly pathogenic Campylobacter strain that is highly resistant to antimicrobials and responsible for the vast majority of sheep abortions and a number of food-borne gastroenteritis outbreaks in humans in the United States. His study revealed key epidemiological features of the strain in ruminants and the specific genetic changes responsible for the hypervirulence. This discovery paved the way for developing a new vaccine to help sheep and cattle producers to fend off this disease.

A higher productive and influential researcher, Zhang has continuously funded by federal grants since 1998. He has been successful in receiving competitive grants from federal agencies including the NIH, USDA, NSF and FDA. He has published in premier journals producing a global impact on the control of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in animals and humans.

As productive as he is as a researcher, he is just as productive as an administrator in the College of Veterinary Medicine. While serving as the associate dean for research and graduate studies, his tenure has been characterized by increased productivity and competitiveness of the college’s research. During his tenure, the College of Veterinary Medicine has received more funding from the USDA than any other veterinary college in the nation. He has grown the pool of resources and improved the process for awarding the college’s internal seed grant program while leveraging other resources.

Zhang has been an active cheerleader for other faculty in the college, reinstating research awards for faculty and promoting faculty recognition for his colleagues by constantly seeking opportunities to nominate faculty for prestigious awards. He has led successful recruiting efforts for faculty in high impact areas within the college and coordinated university-wide research initiatives such as Translational Health and Antimicrobial Resistance.

To grow the college’s graduate degree programs, Zhang initiated a graduate fellowship program to recruit outstanding post-DVM graduate students, established award programs including travel grants for graduate students and postdocs, and established a graduate learning community. As a result, graduate student enrollment in the college has had steady increases each of the five years of Zhang’s leadership.

In addition to holding the Frank Ramsey Endowed Chair, Zhang is also an honorary Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiology and he was elected into the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015.

Zhang resides in Ames, Iowa. He is married to Shujing Dong and has 2 children.

Selected Sources

College of Veterinary Medicine files

College of Veterinary Medicine profile:

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