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UTHSC Names Zhongjie Sun Chair of the Department of Physiology

Dr. Sun will assume his new role as chair in April. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

Zhongjie Sun, MD, PhD, FAHA, has been named chair of the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and deputy director of the UT-Methodist Cardiovascular Institute. He will assume his new role in April.

Dr. Sun comes to UTHSC from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, where he was a professor of physiology, vice chair of research and chair of the research committee. In addition, he was the director of the Robert & Mary Cade Laboratory. Dr. Sun received his medical degree from Jining Medical College in Jining, China, in 1983, and completed his Master of Science degree in physiology at Tongji Medical University. He received his PhD in physiology from Shanghai Medical University, and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“The Department of Physiology at UTHSC has an excellent reputation,” Dr. Sun said. “It has outstanding faculty, which provides a unique opportunity to integrate the broad and excellent expertise to develop new collaborative research programs and further promote the department to the next level. In addition, there is strong support from the campus leadership for promoting research competitiveness.”

“Dr. Sun is a renowned cardiovascular investigator,” said Steve Schwab, MD, chancellor of UTHSC. “He has shown exceptional abilities as an independent researcher and in leading his research peers in collaborative science. Not only does he hold multiple NIH R01s as the principal investigator, but has been a leader in his current institution in research strategic planning, development of research cores, and an advocate of strong graduate training programs. Nationally, he serves as a leader in the American Heart Association, the Academy of Cardiovascular Research Excellence, the American Physiologic Society, and the NIH in peer study sections. He serves on multiple national journal editorial boards. We have full confidence that Dr. Sun will take our nationally ranked Department of Physiology to even higher levels in research excellence.”
Dr. Sun’s leadership vision for UTHSC includes bringing increased focus, alignment, excellence, interaction, and integration of research expertise to promote team-based science.

His research areas of interest include integrative cardiovascular physiology, endocrinology, and neuroscience. In academia, Dr. Sun’s major focuses include the molecular and cellular basis of hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of heart failure and aortic valve calcification, neuroendocrine control of circulation, molecular intervention for diabetes, anti-aging, and more. His team
discovered an important role of Klotho, an anti-aging enzyme, in the pathogenesis of hypertension.

An accomplished researcher, lecturer, mentor, and scholar, Dr. Sun has secured more than $10 million in funding from agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Robert and Mary Cade Foundation, and the Department of Defense. He has written or co-written more than 90 scholarly articles.