School of Public Health



Assistant Professor


Research interests

  • Early life determinants of endocrinology & metabolic disorders

  • Aetiological epidemiology of reproductive and perinatal outcomes

  • Causal inference (e.g., Mendelian randomization)

  • Integrative analysis of multi-omics data


Dr Jian Zhao obtained his PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics at Curtin University, Australia, followed by two-year postdoc research centering on Mendelian randomization and genetic epidemiology, working with Prof Debbie A Lawlor and Dr Maria Carlina Borges at the MRC-Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, UK. Dr Zhao joined Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine affiliated Xinhua Hospital and Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health in January 2021.

His research interests focus on investigating early life determinants of endocrinology & metabolic disorders (e.g., PCOS, NAFLD, T2D etc) in later life using state-of-the-art techniques including Mendelian randomization and multi-omics data integration analysis approach. He is also interested in computational medicine/ precision medicine research as to identify novel molecular biomarkers or therapeutic targets for adverse reproductive and perinatal outcomes leveraging human genetic data and advanced computational biology methods, in large-scale cohort studies such as UK Biobank and other collaborative birth cohorts.

Dr Zhao has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers in leading medical/ statistical computing journals such as Journal of Hepatology, JCEM and Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine. He also serves as reviewers/ review editors for journals including Fertility and Sterility, Seminars in Liver Disease, Maternal and Child Health, Computers in Biology and Medicine, and Frontier in Endocrinology.

Selected publications

  1. Jian Zhao*, Isobel D Stewart, Denis Baird, Dan Mason, John Wright, Jie Zheng, Tom R Gaunt, David M Evans, Rachel M Freathy, Claudia Langenberg, Nicole M Warrington, Deborah A Lawlor, Maria Carolina Borges. Causal effects of maternal circulating amino acids on offspring birthweight: a Mendelian randomisation study, medRxiv 2022.04.15.22273911. doi:

  2. Kurt Taylor, Nancy McBride, Jian Zhao, Sam Oddie, Rafaq Azad, John Wright, Ole A. Andreassen, Isobel D Stewart, Claudia Langenberg, Maria Magnus, Maria Carolina Borges, Massimo Caputo, Deborah A Lawlor. The relationship of maternal gestational mass spectrometry-derived metabolites with offspring congenital heart disease: results from multivariable and Mendelian randomization analyses, medRxiv 2022.02.04.22270425. doi:

  3. Liu D, Zhang Q, Bai P, Zhao J*. Assessing causal relationships between COVID-19 and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Journal of Hepatology, 2021. (JCR Q1, IF=25.083)

  4. Gan Y, Lu D, Yan C*, Zhang J*, Zhao J*. Maternal polycystic ovary syndrome and offspring birth weight: a Mendelian randomization study, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2021. (JCR Q1, IF=5.958)

  5. Zhao J, Xu J, He Y, Xiang M. Children and adolescents' sleep patterns and their associations with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China, Journal of Affective Disorders, 2021. (JCR Q1, IF=4.839)

  6. Zhao J, Zhao Y, Xiang L, Khanal V, Binns CW, Lee AH. A two-part mixed-effects model for analyzing clustered time-to-event data with clumping at zero. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine. 2020. (JCR Q1, IF=5.428)

  7. Zhao J, Zhao Y, Binns CW, Lee AH. Increased calcium supplementation postpartum is associated with breastfeeding among Chinese mothers: finding from two prospective cohort studies. Nutrients. 2016. (JCR Q1, IF= 5.717)

  8. Zhao J, Zhao Y, Lee AH, Binns CW. A time-varying covariate approach for survival analysis of paediatric outcomes. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2017. (JCR Q1, IF= 3.980)

  9. Zhao J, Zhao Y, Khanal V, Lee AH, Binns CW. Application of a frailty modeling approach to correlated breastfeeding duration data. Nursing Research. 2018. (JCR Q1, IF=2.381)

  10. Du M#, Zhao J#, Zhang J, Lau JT, Mo PK, Li J. Depression and social support mediate the effect of HIV self-stigma on condom use intention among Chinese HIV-infected men who have sex with men. AIDS Care. 2018. (joint first author) (JCR Q2, IF=2.320)

  11. Zhao J, Zhao Y, Du M, Binns CW, Lee AH. Maternal education and breastfeeding practices in China: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Midwifery. 2017. (JCR Q2, IF=2.372)

  12. Ye J, Chen Y, Yang H, Chen Q, Huang Y, Zhao J, Tu L, Liu M, Zhang J. A nationwide cross-sectional survey of episiotomy practice in China, The Lancet Regional Health-Western Pacific. 2022.