Zhao Chen

Zhao Chen

Department Chair, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Professor, Public Health
Professor, Anthropology
Professor, Statistics-GIDP
Distinguished Professor, Public Health
Professor, BIO5 Institute
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.


Jiang, P., Missoum, S., & Chen, Z. (2014). Optimal SVM Parameter Selection for Non-separable and Unbalanced Datasets.. Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 50, 523-535.

Jiang, P., Missoum, S., and Chen, Z., Optimal SVM Parameter Selection for Non-separable and Unbalanced Datasets. Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, vol. 50, 2014, pp. 523-535.

Bea, J. W., Smoller, S., Wertheim, B. C., Klimentidis, Y. C., Chen, Z., Zaslavsky, O., Manini, T., Womack, C., Kroenke, C., LaCroix, A., & Thomson, C. A. (2016). Associations between ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers, and lean body mass in community dwelling older women. Nutr, Metab and Cardio Vasc Diseases.
BIO5 Collaborators
Zhao Chen, Yann C Klimentidis
Thomson, C. A., Jackson, R., Chou, Y., Hu, C., Ernst, K. C., Bea, J. W., Klimentidis, Y. C., & Chen, Z. (2017). Body mass index, waist circumference and mortality in a large mutiethnic postmenopausal cohort - Results from the Women's Health Initiative.. Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
BIO5 Collaborators
Zhao Chen, Chengcheng Hu, Yann C Klimentidis
Martinez, J. A., Wertheim, B. C., Thomson, C. A., Bea, J. W., Wallace, R., Allison, M., Snetselaar, L., Chen, Z., Nassir, R., & Thompson, P. A. (2017). Physical Activity Modifies the Association between Dietary Protein and Lean Mass of Postmenopausal Women. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 117(2), 192-203.e1.

Maintenance of lean muscle mass and related strength is associated with lower risk for numerous chronic diseases of aging in women.

Klimentidis, Y. C., Chen, Z., Arora, A., & Hsu, C. (2014). Association of physical activity with lower type 2 diabetes incidence is weaker among individuals at high genetic risk. Diabetologia, 57(12), 2530-4.
BIO5 Collaborators
Zhao Chen, Yann C Klimentidis

We examined whether or not the association of physical activity with type 2 diabetes incidence differs according to several types of genetic susceptibility.