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Winnie Wan-yee Tang, PhD

  • Associate Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E7545
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


Tang's Lab website
Tang's Bibliography
Tang's Research Highlights

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PhD, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2004
BSc, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000


In the past, susceptibility of disease was believed to be determined solely by gene mutations, deletions, gene fusion, tandem duplications, or gene amplifications causing dysregulation of gene expression that underlies the genesis of disease. However, it has recently become clear that epigenetic disruption of gene expression plays an equally important role in the development of disease. My current research focuses on deciphering how environmental pollutants/allergen and dietary factors alter the epigenome via DNA de/methylation and induce chromatin remodeling, leading to complex diseases like asthma, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea and cancer. Our recent work has identified a previously unrecognized role for DNA hydroxymethylation in airway hyperresponsiveness and asthma.

Results from the epigenetic studies in laboratory can be further validated in populations. For example, many epidemiological studies showed the association between environmental exposure and complex diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, asthma and cancer. With a team of collaborators, I have extended my work to identify the relationship between the inter-individual epigenetic variations and disease risk. My lab has been participating in several human cohort studies which are currently funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Therefore, my long-term goal is to apply innovative and promising epigenetic approaches to understand the underlying mechanisms by which epigenetic changes may contribute to common diseases. Our findings may lead to the development of improved preventive measures and therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of chronic diseases. Also, translating our scientific findings into human may provide proper disease management and lifetime recommendations to the public.

Honors and Awards

2017-2019 Joint Research Fund Award for Overseas Chinese Scholars, National Natural Science Foundation of China

2015-2016 Thomas and Carol McCann Innovation Research Fund Award

2012-2013 Faculty Innovation Award, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

2008-2013 Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)                 

2006-2008 Postdoctoral Trainee Award, Prostate Cancer Research, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, US Department of Defense

  • Epigenetic Reprogramming in Development and Disease
  • Epigenetic Epidemiology
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Hydroxymethylation
  • Transgenerational Inheritance
  • House Dust Mite
  • Airborne PAHs
  • Arsenic
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Cancer

Selected Publications:

  • Research Articles (Epigenetics and Asthma): Lin, H.Y., Shang, Y., Mitzner, W., Sham, J.S.K., and Tang, W.Y. Epigenetic modulation of asthmatic diseased-airway smooth muscle phenotypes. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. In press. Cheng, R.Y.S., Shang, Y., Limjunyawong, N., Dao, T., Das, S., Rabold, R., Sham, J., Mitnzer, W and Tang, W.Y. Alterations of the Lung Methylome in Allergic Airway Hyperresponsiveness. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. 2014 Apr;55(3):244-255  Shang, Y., Das, S., Rabold, R., Sham, JSK., Mitzner, W. and Tang, W.Y. Investigation of DNA Methylation Changes in House-dust-mite (HDM) Induced Asthma. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013 Aug;49(2):279-287.  Tang, W.Y., Levin, L., Talaska, G., Cheung, Y.Y.,  Herbstman, J.B., Miller, R., Perera, F., and Ho, S. Maternal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is associated with methylation at a 5’-CpG island of interferon-? in cord white blood cells. Environ Health Perspect. Aug 2012; 120(8): 1195–1200.  Tang, W.Y.*, Perera, F.*, Herbstman, J.B., Tang, D.T., Levin, L., Miller, R. and Ho, S. Relation of DNA Methylaton of 5'-CpG island of ACSL3 to Transplacental Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Childhood Asthma.  PLoS-One. 2009 Feb; 4(2). * Co-first authorship.
  • Research Articles (Epigenetics and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals): Dao, T., Hong, X.M., Wang, X.B. and Tang, W.Y. Aberrant 5'-CpG methylation of cord blood TNF? associated with maternal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers. PLoS One. 2015 Sep; 10(9):e0138815. Tellez-Plaza, M., Tang, W.Y.,  Shang, Y., Umans JG., Francesconi, KA., Goessler, W., Pollak, J., Guallar, E., Cole, S.,  Fallin, D., Navas-Acien, A.  Association of Global DNA Methylation and Global DNA Hydroxymethylation with Metals and other Exposures in Human Blood DNA Samples. Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Sep;122(9):946-954. Gribble, M., Tang, W.Y., Shang, Y., Pollak, J., Umans, J., Francesconi, K.A., Goessler, W., Silbergeld, E.K, Guallar,E., Cole, S., Fallin, D., and Navas-Acien, A. Differential Methylation of the Arsenic (III) Methyltransferase Promoter According to Arsenic Exposure: Preliminary Evidence from the Strong Heart Study.  Arch Toxicol. 2014 Feb;88(2):275-282. Tang, W.Y., Morey, L., Cheung, Y.Y., Belmonte, J., Prins, G.S., and Ho, S. Neonatal exposure to 17?-estradiol/bisphenol A alters promoter methylation and expression of Nsbp1 and Hpcal1 genes and transcriptional programs of Dnmt3a/b and Mbd2/4 in the rat prostate gland throughout life. Endocrinolgy. 2012 Jan 2012;153(1):42-55.  Tang, W.Y, Newbold, R., Mardilovich, K, Jefferson, W, Cheng, R, Medvedovic M., and Ho, S. Persistent hypomethylation in the promoter of nucleosomal binding protein (Nsbp1) correlates with Nsbp1 overexpression in mouse uteri neonatally exposed to diethylstilbestrol or genistein. Endocrinology. 2008 July; 149(12):5922–5931. Tang, W.Y.*, Ho, S.*, Belmonte, J. and Prins, G.S. Developmental exposure to estradiol and bisphenol A increases susceptibility to prostate carcinogenesis and epigenetically regulates phosphodiesterase type 4 variant 4, Cancer Research. 2006 June 66(11):5624-5632. * co-first authorship.
  • Other Notable Research Articles (Pulmonary Respiratory Diseases): An, S.S., Mitzner, W., Tang, W.Y., Ahn, K., Yoon, A.R., Huang, J., Kilic, O., Yong, H.M., Fahey, J.W., Kumar, S., Biswal, S., Holgate, S.T., Panettieri, R.A., Solway, J. and Liggett, S.B. An inflammation-independent contraction mechanophenotype of airway smooth muscle in asthma. Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (In Press). Shirahata, M., Tang, WY., Kostuk, EW. A Short-Term Fasting in Neonates Induces Breathing Instability and Epigenetic Modification in the Carotid Body. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;860:187-193.  Shirahata, M., Tang, W.Y., Shin, M.K. and Polotsky, V.Y.  ‘Is the Carotid Body a Metabolic Monitor?’ Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;860:153-159.  Tankersley, C.G., Georgakopoulos, D., Tang, W.Y., and Sborz, N. Effects of ozone and particulate matter on cardiac mechanics: role of the atrial natriuretic peptide gene. Toxicol Sci. 2012 Jan; 131(1):95-107.
  • Review and Book Chapter (Epigenetics): Ruiz-Hernandez, A., Kuo, C., Rentero-Garrido, P., Tang, W.Y., Redon, J., Ordovas, J.M., Navas-Acien, A. and Tellez-Plaza, M. Environmental chemicals and DNA methylation in adults: a systematic review of the epidemiologic evidence. Clin Epigenetics. 2015 Apr; 7(1):55. Review.  Martos, S., Tang, W.Y., and Wang, Z.B. Elusive inheritance: Transgenerational effects and epigenetic inheritance in human environmental disease. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2015 Jul; 118(1-2):44-54. Dao, T., Cheng, R.Y.S., Revelo, P., Mitzner. W., and Tang, W.Y. Hydroxymethylation as a Novel Environmental Biosensor, Review. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2014 Mar 1;1(1):1-10. O'Hagan, H.M. and Tang, W.Y. Increased understanding of the impact of environmental exposures on the epigenome. Environ Mol Mutagen. Environ Mol Mutagen. 2014 Apr;55(3):151-154. Cheng, R.Y.S. and Tang, W.Y. ‘Environment, epigenetics and diseases.’ In: Toxicology and Epigenetics. 2012 Edited by Saura C. Sahu, The John Wiley and Sons Ltd, pp5-24. Wu T.Y., Giovannucci, E.,Weldge, J., Mallick, P., Lemasters, G., Tang, W.Y. and Ho, S. Measurement of GST-P1 methylation in body fluids may complement PSA screening for prostate cancer: implication of using plasma and urine samples: a meta-analysis. Br J Cancer.2011 Jun 28;105(1):65-73.  Prins G.S., Tang, W.Y., Belmonte, J. and Ho, S. Perinatal Exposure to Estradiol and Bisphenol A Alters the Prostate Epigenome and Increases Susceptibility to Carcinogenesis. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. 2007 Feb;102(2):134-138.  Ho, S. and Tang, W.Y. Techniques used in studies of epigenome dysregulation due to aberrant DNA methylation: an emphasis on fetal-based adult diseases,Reproductive Toxicology. 2007 Apr-May; 23(3):267-282.  Tang, W.Y. and Ho, S. Epigenetic Reprogramming and Imprinting in origins of disease. Endocrine and Metabolic Disorder. 2007 Jun;8(2):173-182.
  • Arsenic, Epigenetics and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in American Indian
  • Prenatal Multi-Level Stressors and Alterations in Maternal and Fetal Epigenomes