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Ying Zhang

Director, Center for American Indian Health Research & Presidential Associate Professor

Ying Zhang, M.D. M.S. Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone: (405) 271-2229, x48073

Office: Hudson College of Public Health

801 Northeast 13th Street, Room 112D

Post Office Box 26901

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104



Dr. Zhang joined the Center for American Indian Health Research (CAIHR) in 1999 as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the NIH-funded Strong Heart Study (SHS). She was promoted to Assistant Professor of Research in 2005. She then joined the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (BSE) in 2012. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017 and, in 2020, became the Director of the CAIHR that had become one of the research centers in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. The CAIHR is mainly funded by NIH contracts and research grants.  


Since she joined BSE, Dr. Zhang has advised/mentored 40 MPH, six MS, four CTS (Master of Clinical and Translational Science), one DrPH, and 11 PhD students. Most of her students went to work in biomedical research institutes, public health agencies, or healthcare industry after graduation. Some of them also chose to further their training in medical and dental schools. Dr. Zhang is very supportive of students’ personal and academic growth.   


Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on the statistical methods used to study pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus and its micro- and macro-vascular complications that include diabetes kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, and nonalcoholic liver disease. She is especially interested in longitudinal and survival data analyses of independent or related observations. Recently, she is working on lipidomic data analyses and protecting data privacy. Her research has been funded by multiple NIH contracts and grants in which she serves as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator. She has dedicated to health research among American Indians for over two decades. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the SHS Coordinating Center (CC) that provides administrative, operational, technical, statistical, and data management support for this NIH-funded multicentered prospective study among American Indians that has been ongoing for more than 30 years.      


In addition, Dr. Zhang serves the academic communities at department, college, university, and national levels.



  • Post-Doctoral training, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 19992005 
  • PhD, Biostatistics, West China University of Medical Sciences, 1998 
  • MS, Biostatistics, West China University of Medical Sciences, 1994 
  • MD, Preventive Medicine, West China University of Medical Sciences, 1991



  • Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Hudson College of Public Health, OUHSC, 2017–present
  • Assistant professor of Research, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Hudson College of Public Health, OUHSC, 2012–2017
  • Assistant professor of Research, Center for American Indian Health Research, Hudson College of Public Health, OUHSC, 2005–2012
  • Post-Doctoral Training, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • Lecturer, Department of Health Statistics, School of Public Health, West China University of Medical Sciences, Chengdu, Sichuan, China, 1994–1999


  • BSE 5163 Biostatistics Methods I
  • BSE 5173 Biostatistics Methods II
  • BSE 5663 Analysis of Frequency Data


Research Interests:

  • Time-to-event and longitudinal data analyses for independent or related outcomes 
  • American Indian Health 
  • Lipidomic data analyses 
  • Data privacy 
  • Pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus and its micro- and macro-vascular complications that include diabetes kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, and nonalcoholic liver disease 
  • Categorical data analysis 
  • Model building 
  • Study design and sample size 

Active Research Funding Grants 

2019-2026, 75N92019D00027, National Institute of Health, NHLBI, “Strong Heart Study Coordinating Center (SHS-CC)”. Principal Investigator (PI). 

Major Goals: SHS-CC supports a collaboration among study participants, American Indian tribes/communities, investigators nationwide, and the funding agency by building a trustful relationship and sense of ownership among all participating parties. Furthermore, SHS-CC provides support of data management and statistical analyses.  

2017-2021, 1R01HL136835-01A1, National Institute of Health, NHLBI subcontract to the University of California, San Diego: “Protecting Privacy and Facilitating Shared Access of Clinical and Genetic Data of Special Populations”. PI of the subcontract. 

Major Goals: Our study aims to develop advanced technologies and scientific computing toolkits to enable shared, but protected, data access to SHS data, as well as to study the data sharing preferences of SHS participants. The approaches will abide by SHS Tribal sovereignty and agreements that include Tribal review and approval of all SHS data requests. 

2020-2022, OT2HL158276, National Institute of Health, NHLBI, NIND, and NIA funded subcontract to the Columbia University “Collaborative Cohort of Cohorts for COVID-19 Research (C4R)”. One of the mPI of the subcontract.  

Major Goals: A new nationwide study of more than 50,000 individuals to determine factors that predict disease severity and long-term health impacts of COVID-19. 

2019-22026, 75N92019D00021, National Institute of Health, NHLBI: “Strong Heart Study Oklahoma Field Center (OK FC)”. Co-Investigator.  

Major Goals: Recruiting/consenting SHS participants, conducting morbidity and mortality surveillance, engaging participating AI communities, publishing study results, and training/mentoring community members, students, and junior investigators are some of the crucial research components of the OK FC. 


Link to Dr. Zhang's current publications

Select Publications:

  1. Rhoades DA, Farley J, Schwartz SM, Wang W, Best L, Zhang Y, Ali T, Yeh F, Rhoades ER, Lee ET, Howard BV. Cancer Mortality in a Population-Based Cohort of American Indians - The Strong Heart Study. Cancer Epidemiology. 2021 Oct 74: 101978 
  1. Navas-Acien A, Domingo-Relloso A, Subedi P, Riffo-Campos AL, Xia R, Gomez L, Haack K, Goldsmith J, Howard BV, Best LG, Devereux RB, Tauqeer A, Zhang Y, Fretts AM, Pichler G, Levy D, Vasan RS, Baccarelli AA, Herreros-Martinez M, Tang WY, Bressler J, Fornage M, Umans JG, Tellez-Plaza M, Fallin MD, Zhao JY, Cole SA. Blood DNA methylation and prediction of incident coronary heart disease: Evidence from the Strong Heart Study and replication across diverse populations. JAMA Cardiol. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.2704 Published online August 4, 2021.  
  1. Domingo-Relloso A; Huan T, Haack K, Riffo-Campos AL, Levy D, Fallin MD, Terry MB, Zhang Y, Rhoades DA, Herreros-Martinez N, Garcia-Esquinas E, Cole SA, Tellez-Plaza M, Navas-Acien A. DNA methylation and cancer incidence: lymphatic-hematopoietic vs. solid cancers in the Strong Heart Study. Clinical Epigenetics. 2021 Feb 25;13(1):43. doi: 10.1186/s13148-021-01030-8. PMID: 33632303 PMC7908806 
  1. Kaufman J, Mattison C, Fretts AM, Umans JG, Cole SA, Vorunganti VS, Goessler W, Best LG, Zhang Y, Tellez-Plaza; Ana Navas-Acien M, Gribble MO. Arsenic, Blood Pressure, and Hypertension in the Strong Heart Family Study. Environ Res. 2021 Apr;195:110864. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.110864. PMID: 33581093 PMCID: PMC8021390 
  1. Suchy-Dicey AM, Zhang Y, McPherson S, Tuttle KR, Howard BV, Umans J, Buchwald BS. Glomerular filtration function decline, mortality, and cardiovascular events: data from the Strong Heart Study. Kidney360 Nov. 2020, 10.34067/KID.0000782020;DOI: