Zhao Chen
Department Chair, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Distinguished Professor
Professor, Anthropology
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Statistics-GIDP
Primary Department
(520) 626-9011
Research Interest
Zhao Chen, PhD, MPH, has been focused on epidemiologic research of women's health and aging-related health conditions. She has a wealth of experience in studying body composition assessments, breast cancer risk factors, fracture risk in cancer survivors, osteoporosis prevention, epidemiology of anemia, biomarker and genetic variations for chronic diseases and sarcopenia measurements among women and elderly from different ethnic backgrounds. She is a member of the Arizona Cancer Center, Arizona Center on Aging, Arizona Arthritis Center and BIO5. She is a funded researcher by the National Health Institute (NIH), and has served on numerous scientific study sections for the NIH and other funding agencies nationally and internationally. Dr. Chen also has an affiliated faculty appointment with the School of Anthropology.Her work with the U.S. Women's Health Initiative study has produced several significant research papers on epidemiologic methodology and osteoporosis risk factors in diverse populations. Her findings on increased fracture risk among breast cancer survivors have caught wide public attention, thus making a significant contribution to the prevention of fractures in the large number of breast cancer survivors. Her research on mammographic density as a proxy of breast cancer risk has provided direct evidences on significant associations between body composition, dietary intake, and mammographic density. The study findings on changes in body composition and hip structural geometry with intervention and aging have contributed to osteoporosis prevention and healthy aging research. Currently, she is leading investigations on longitudinal changes in bone strength and skeletal muscle loss associated with aging and hormone and calcium/vitamin D interventions. Her research on biomarkers and genetic variations for sarcopenia is supported by the National Institute of Aging/NIH. She has also received NIH funding to study anemia and its relationship with muscle loss, physical function, and mortality in Mexican American, Africa American, Native American, Asian, and Non-Hispanic white postmenopausal women. In the recent years, she has been working with several large worldwide consortiums on genome-wide association studies for sarcopenia and anemia.Besides teaching in classes, Dr. Chen has been providing research training opportunities to students especially minority students from underserved populations. Under her direction, graduate students in her laboratory are conducting research in many aspects of women's health and aging. Some examples of the research areas include arthritis and osteoporosis in women, anemia and cardiovascular diseases, physical functional assessments in the elderly, and relationship of growth factors with breast cancer risk. With the growing elderly population in the United States, osteoporosis, sarcopenia and anemia have become more significant public health problems. In responding to the community's needs, she frequently gives community health lectures and provides opportunities of health screening and education to publics. Dr. Chen is working on building a strong research and health promotion program to contribute to healthy aging in people from all ethnic backgrounds.

Publications

Chen, Z., & Chen, Z. (2017). INCIDENT ATRIAL FIBRILLATION AND THE RISK OF FRACTURE IN THE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH STUDY.. International Osteoporosis, 28(2), 719-725.

AdvancedHelpResult FiltersFormat: AbstractSend toOsteoporos Int. 2017 Feb;28(2):719-725. doi: 10.1007/s00198-016-3778-1. Epub 2016 Oct 7.Incident atrial fibrillation and the risk of fracture in the cardiovascular health study.Wallace ER1, Siscovick DS2,3,4, Sitlani CM3, Dublin S4,5, Mitchell P6, Robbins JA7, Fink HA8,9, Cauley JA10, Bůžková P11, Carbone L12, Chen Z13, Heckbert SR4,5.Author informationAbstractIn this prospective cohort of 4462 older adults, incident atrial fibrillation (AF) was not statistically significantly associated with subsequent risk of incident fracture.INTRODUCTION: AF is associated with stroke, heart failure, dementia, and death, but its association with fracture is unknown. Therefore, we examined the association of incident AF with the risk of subsequent fracture in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) cohort.METHODS: Of the CHS participants aged ≥65 years, 4462 were followed between 1991 and 2009, mean follow-up 8.8 years. Incident AF was identified by annual study electrocardiogram (ECG), hospital discharge diagnosis codes, or Medicare claims. Fractures of the hip, distal forearm, humerus, or pelvis were identified using hospital discharge diagnosis codes or Medicare claims. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between incident AF (time-varying) and the risk of subsequent fracture. We also evaluated whether AF was associated with risk of sustaining a fall.RESULTS: Crude incident fracture rate was 22.9 per 1000 person-years in participants with AF and 17.7 per 1000 person-years in participants without AF. Individuals with incident AF were not at significantly higher risk of hip fracture (adjusted HR = 1.09, 95 % CI 0.83-1.42) or fracture at any selected site (adjusted HR = 0.97, 95 % CI 0.77-1.22) or risk of sustaining a fall (adjusted HR = 1.00, 95 % CI = 0.87-1.16) compared with those without AF.CONCLUSION: In this cohort of older, community-dwelling adults, incident AF was not shown to be associated with falls or hip or other fractures.KEYWORDS: Arrhythmia; Atrial fibrillation; Fracture; Hip fracturePMID: 27714443 PMCID: PMC5782802 DOI: 10.1007/s00198-016-3778-1 Free PMC Article

Klimentidis, Y. C., Bea, J. W., Thompson, P., Klimecki, W. T., Hu, C., Wu, G., Nicholas, S., Ryckman, K. K., & Chen, Z. (2016). Genetic Variant in ACVR2B Is Associated with Lean Mass. Medicine and science in sports and exercise.
BIO5 Collaborators
Zhao Chen, Chengcheng Hu, Walter Klimecki, Yann C Klimentidis

Low lean mass (LM) is a risk factor for chronic disease, a major cause of disability and diminished quality of life, and is a heritable trait. However, relatively few specific genetic factors have been identified as potentially influencing this trait.

Crandall, C. J., Yildiz, V. O., Wactawski-Wende, J., Johnson, K. C., Chen, Z., Going, S. B., Wright, N. C., & Cauley, J. A. (2015). Postmenopausal weight change and incidence of fracture: post hoc findings from Women's Health Initiative Observational Study and Clinical Trials. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 350, h25.

To determine associations between postmenopausal change in body weight and incidence of fracture and associations between voluntary and involuntary weight loss and risk of fracture.

Crandall, C. J., LaMonte, M. J., Snively, B. M., LeBoff, M. S., Cauley, J. A., Lewis, C. E., Wallace, R., Li, W., Chen, Z., Robbins, J. A., & Wactawski-Wende, J. (2016). Physical Functioning Among Women Aged 80 Years and Older With Previous Fracture. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 71 Suppl 1, S31-41.

The oldest old are the fastest growing segment of the elderly population. Little is known regarding the associations of fracture history with physical functioning assessed after age 80.

Sims, S. T., Kubo, J., Desai, M., Bea, J., Beasley, J. M., Manson, J. E., Allison, M., Seguin, R. A., Chen, Z., Michael, Y. L., Sullivan, S. D., Beresford, S., & Stefanick, M. L. (2013). Changes in physical activity and body composition in postmenopausal women over time. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(8).

Higher physical activity (PA) has been associated with greater attenuation of body fat gain and preservation of lean mass across the lifespan. These analyses aimed to determine relationships of change in PA to changes in fat and lean body mass in a longitudinal prospective study of postmenopausal women.