Feixiong  Cheng,  PhD

Feixiong Cheng, PhD

Assistant Staff

Lerner Research Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195
Phone: (216) 444-7654


The primary goal of Dr. Cheng’s lab is to combine tools from network medicine, Artificial Intelligence (AI), genomics, bioinformatics, computational biology, chemical biology, and experimental pharmacology and systems biology assays (e.g., single cell sequencing and iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes and neurons) to address the challenging questions of understanding of various human complex diseases (e.g., cardio-oncology, pulmonary vascular diseases, and Alzheimer's disease), which could have a major impact in identifying novel real-world data-driven diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic approaches for precision medicine.

Dr. Cheng’s lab at Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute has several major focus areas:

1. Network Medcine Tools for Precision Medicine Drug Discovery

Traditional drug discovery and development pipelines involve complex, expensive, and time-consuming processes. Many drug candidates with idealin vitroactivities are failed in phases II and III because of low efficacyin vivoor safety problems. One possible reason for this high clinical attrition rate might be the shortcoming if the classical hypothesis of ‘one drug, one gene, one disease’ in the traditional drug discovery paradigm. Supported by NIH grants, our team have invested a huge amount of efforts for the development of several integrated, network-based methodologies (Nature Genetics 2021; Nature Communications 2018 and 2019a) for drug repurposing. Those state-of-the-art network medicine tools (https://alzgps.lerner.ccf.org) present new and important methodologies fordeveloping broadly active therapeutics for various complex diseases (including COVID-19 and Alzheimer's disease)

2. Translation of Multi-Omics Discoveries to Disease Biology and Therapeutic Development

High-throughput omics (including genomics, transcriptomics (single-cell), proteomics, and metabolomics) offer power tools for human disease studies. However, how to translate multi-omics findings to disease pathobiology and therapeutic development remains a great challenge. Our team are actively developing and applying developed multiple network-based methodologies (Genome Research 2021; PLOS Biology 2020; Nature Communications 2019b) to illustrate the pathobiology of disease and therapeutic discovery in various complex diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, pulmonary vascular disease, and others.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Methodologies for Target Identification and Therapeutic Discovery

Without foreknowledge of the complete drug target information, development of promising and affordable approaches for effective treatment of human diseases is challenging. Our team has developed multiple network-based, artificial Intelligence methodologies (Lancet Digital Health 2020 [Cover]; Chemical Science 2020 [Cover]), for drug target identification and precision medicine drug discovery, by unique integration of big biomedical data, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, radiomics, interactomics (e.g., protein-protein interactions [https://mutanome.lerner.ccf.org], Genome Biology 2021), and electronic health records (EHRs).

4. Building an Individualized Network Medicine Infrastructure for Precision Cardio-Oncology

The growing awareness of cardiac dysfunction by cancer treatment has led to the emerging field of Cardio-Oncology. However, there are no guidelines in terms of how to prevent and treat the new cardiotoxicity in cancer survivors due to the limited experimental assays. Network medicine – a discipline that seeks to redefine disease and therapeutics from an integrated perspective using systems biology and network science – offers a non-invasive way to identify actionable biomarkers for Cardio-Oncology. Supported by NIH Career Development Award (K99/R00), Dr. Cheng’s lab is working on developing state-of-the-art systems biology and network medicine approaches in Cardio-Oncology that focuses on screening, monitoring and treating cancer survivors with cardiac dysfunction resulting from cancer treatments. The central, unifying hypothesis is that an integrated, network-based, systems biology approach that incorporates not only genetic variations, but also gene expression, metabolomic, proteomic, the human protein-protein interactome, exposomic data, and real-world data (e.g., patient longitudinal data), along with careful deep phenotypic data, will prove to be the most effective way to identify clinical actionable biomarkers and mechanisms responsible for Cardio-Oncology, thereby achieving the goal of coordinated, patient-centered strategies for treatment and long-term heart and vascular care (e.g., heart failure and pulmonary vascular disease) for cancer survivors.

Lay Summary

Cheng Lab is developing and applying systems biology technologies and network medicine methodologies to predict drug targets and to identify mechanisms of disease, thereby approaching the goal of coordinated, patient-centered strategies to innovative diagnostics and therapeutics development.

We have 2-3 postdoc and multiple graduate student positions available for Network Medicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects. If you have PhD or MD in the field of systems biology, bioinformatics, machine learning, AI, natural language processing, mathematics, computational biology, and network science, please send your cover letter (describing your interest in and qualifications for this position), curriculum vitae (including publications list), one research statement that outlines both your research achievements and agenda, and your service and outreach activities and plans, and the names and contact information of three letter writers. Please apply before deadline September 30, 2021.

Published papers

Fang J, Zhang P, Zhou Y, Chiang WC, Tan J, Hou Y, Stauffer S, Li L, Pieper AA, Cummings J, Cheng F (2021) Endophenotype-based discovery and population-based validation of Sildenafil in reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Aging, Provisional Acceptance

Martin W, Sheynkman G, Lightstone FC, Nussinov R, Cheng F (2021) Interpretable Artificial Intelligence and Exascale Molecular Dynamics Simulations to Reveal Kinetics: Applications to Alzheimer’s Disease, Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Accepted.

Xu J, Zhang P, Huang Y, Zhou Y, Hou Y, Bekris L, Lathia JD, Chiang WC, Li L, Pieper AA, Leverenz BJ, Cummings J, Cheng F (2021) Multimodal single-cell/nucleus RNA-sequencing data analysis uncovers molecular networks between disease-associated microglia and astrocytes with implications for drug repurposing in Alzheimer’s diseaseGenome Research, in press. doi: 10.1101/gr.272484.120.

Hou Y, Zhou Y, Hussain M, Budd GT, Tang WHW, Abraham J, Xu B, Shah C, Moudgil R, Popovic Z, Watson C, Cho L, Chung M, Kanj M, Kapadia S, Griffin B, Svensson L, Collier P, Cheng F (2021) Cardiac risk stratification in cancer patients: A longitudinal patient-patient network analysisPLOS Medicine18(8): e1003736.

Hou Y, Zhou Y, Gack UM, Lathia DJ, Kallianpur A, Mehra R, Chan T, Jung UJ, Jehi L, Eng C, Cheng F (2021) Multimodal single-cell omics analysis identifies epithelium-immune cell interactions and immune vulnerability associated with sex differences in COVID-19Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, 6(1):292.

Zhou Y, Xu J, Hou Y, Leverenz B.J., Kallianpur A, Mehra MR, Liu Y, Yu H, Pieper AA, Jehi, L. & Cheng F (2021) Network medicine links SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 infection to brain microvascular injury and neuroinflammation in dementia-like cognitive impairmentAlzheimer's Research & Therapy, 13:110.

Zhou Y, Fang J, Bekris L, Young H.K., Pieper AA, Leverenz J, Cummings J, Cheng F (2021) AlzGPS: A Genome-wide Positioning Systems Platform to Catalyze Multi-omics Findings for Alzheimer's Drug Discovery. Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, 13(1):24. AlzGPS website: https://alzgps.lerner.ccf.org

Shin KM, Vázquez-Rosa E, Koh YG, Dhar M, Chaubey K, Cintrón-Pérez JC, Barker S, Miller E, Franke K, Noterman M, Seth D, Allen SR, Motz TC, Rao R, Skelton AL, Pardue TM, Fliesler JS, Wang C, Tracy ET, Gan L, Liebl JD, Savarraj J, Torres LG, Ahnstedt H, McCullough DL, Kitagawa SR, Choi AH, Zhang P, Hou Y, Chiang WC, Li L, Ortiz F, Kilgore AJ, Williams SN, Whitehair CV, Gefen T, Flanagan EM, Stamler SJ, Jain KM, Kraus A, Cheng F, Reynolds DJ, Pieper AA (2021) Reducing tau acetylation is neuroprotective in brain injuryCell184(10):2715-2732.e23.

Zhou Y, Zhao J, Fang J, Martin W, Li L, Nussinov R, Chan TA, Eng C, Cheng F (2021) My Personal Mutanome: A Computational Genomic Medicine Platform for Searching Network Perturbing Alleles Linking Genotype to Phenotype. Genome Biology. 22: 53. Website: https://mutanome.lerner.ccf.org

Cheng FZhao J, Wang Y, Lu W, Liu Z, Zhou Y, Martin W, Wang R, Hao T, Yue H, Ma J, Hou Y, Castrillon AJ, Fang J, Lathia DJ, Keri AR, Lightstone C.F., Antmam ME, Rabadan R, David EH, Eng C, Vidal M, Loscalzo J (2021) Comprehensive characterization of protein-protein interactions perturbed by disease mutationsNature Genetics53(3):342-353.

Nussinov R, Jang H, Nir G, Tsai CJ, Cheng F (2021) A new precision medicine initiative at the dawn of exascale computing. Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, 6(1):3.

Fang J, Pieper AA, Lee G, Bekris L, Nussinov R, Leverenz BJ, Cummings J, Cheng F (2020) Harnessing endophenotypes and network medicine for Alzheimer’s drug repurposingMedicinal Research Reviews, 40:2386–2426.

Zhou Y, Wang F, Tang J, Nussinov R, Cheng F (2020) Artificial Intelligence in COVID-19 Drug Repurposing. Lancet Digital Health. 2(12), E667-E676. Cover Paper.
Zhou Y, Hou Y, Shen J, Kallianpur A1, Zein J, Culver AD, Farha S, Comhair S, Fiocchi C, Gack UM, Mehra R, Stappenbeck T, Chan T, Eng C, Jung UJ, Jehi L, Erzurum S, Cheng F (2020) A network medicine approach to prediction and population-based validation of disease manifestations and drug repurposing for COVID-19PLOS Biology, 18(11): e3000970. PMCID: PMC7350981

Zhou Y, Hou Y, Shen J, Huang Y, Martin W, Cheng F (2020) Network-based drug repurposing for novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV/SARS-CoV-2Cell Discovery, 6, 14.

Hou Y, Zhao J, Martin W, Kallianpur A, Chung KM, Jehi L, Sharifi N, Erzurum S, Eng C, Cheng F (2020) New insights into genetic susceptibility of COVID-19: an ACE2 and TMPRSS2 polymorphism analysisBMC Medicine, 18, 216.

Zeng X, Song X, Ma T, Pan X, Zhou Y, Hou Y, Zhang Z, Karypis G, Cheng F (2020) Repurpose open data to discover therapeutics for COVID-19 using deep learning. Journal of Proteome Research, 19(11), 4624–4636 (Cover paper)

Martin W, Cheng F (2020) Repurposing of FDA-approved toremifene to treat COVID-19 by blocking the spike glycoprotein and NSP14 of SARS-CoV-2Journal of Proteome Research, 19(11), 4670–4677. 

Martin W, Cheng F (2021) A rational design of a multi-epitope vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 which accounts for the glycan shield of the Spike glycoprotein. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. in press. 10.1080/07391102.2021.1894986.

Zeng X, Zhu S, Lu W, Liu Z, Huang J, Zhou Y, Fnag J, Huang Y, Guo H, Li L, Trapp B, Nussinov R, Eng C, Loscalzo J, Cheng F (2020) Target identification among known drugs by deep learning from heterogeneous networksChemical Science, 11, 1775-1797. (Journal Cover Paper)

Liu C, Ma Y, Zhao J, Nussinov R, Zhang Y.C., Cheng F (co-corresponding author), Zhang Z (2020) Computational network biology: data, model, and applicationPhysics Reports 846 (3): 1-66.

Liu C, Zhao J, Lu W, Dai Y, Zhou Y, Hockings J, Nussinov R, Eng C, Cheng F (2020) Individualized genetic network analysis reveals new therapeutic vulnerabilities in 6,700 cancer genomesPLoS Computational Biology, 16(2): e1007701.

Zhou Y, Hou Y, Hussain M, Watson C, Moudgil R, Shah C, Abraham J, Budd G.T., Tang W.H.W, Finet J.E., James, K; Estep J.D., Xu B, Hu B, Cremer P, Jellis C, Grimm R.A., Greenberg N, Popovic Z.B., Cho L, Desai M.Y., Nissen S.E., Kapadia S.R., Svensson L.G., Griffin B.P, Collier P, Cheng F (2020) Machine Learning Approaches to Cancer Therapy-related Cardiac Dysfunction Risk Stratification in 4,300 Longitudinal Cancer PatientsJournal of the American Heart Association (JAHA). 9(23):e019628.

Castrillon JA, Eng C, Cheng F (2020) Pharmacogenomics for immunotherapy and immune-related cardiotoxicityHuman Molecular Genetics. 29(R2):R186-R196.

Xu B, Kocyigit D, Griffin PB, Cheng F (2020) Applications of artificial intelligence in multimodality cardiovascular imaging: A state-of-the-art reviewProgress in Cardiovascular Diseases. 63(3):367-376.

Bayik D, Zhou Y, Park C, Hong C, Vail D, Silver JD, Lauko JA, Roversi AG, Watson CD, Lo A, Alban JT, McGraw M, Sorensen DM, Grabowski MM, Otvos B, Vogelbaum AM, Horbinski MC, Kristensen WB, Khalil MA, Hwang HT, Ahluwalia SM, Cheng F, Lathia DJ (2020) Myeloid-derived suppressor cell subsets drive glioblastoma growth in a sex-specific mannerCancer Discovery. 10(8):1210-1225.

Hu K, Li K, Lv J, Feng J, Chen J, Wu H, Cheng F, Jiang W, Wang J, Pei H, Chiao PJ, Cai Z, Chen Y, Liu M, Pang X (2020) Suppression of the SLC7A11/glutathione axis causes synthetic lethality in KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinomaJournal of Clinical Investigation. 130(4):1752-1766.

Akhavanfard S, Padmanabhan R, Yehia L, Cheng F, Eng C (2020) Comprehensive germline genomic profiles of children, adolescents and young adults with solid tumorsNature Communications, 11: 2206.

Jin S, Zeng X, Lin J, Chan YS, Erzurum CS, Cheng F (2019) A network-based approach to infer microRNA-mediated disease comorbidities and potential pathobiological implications. npj Systems Biology and Applications, 5, 41.

Huang Y, Fang J, Wang Z, Lu W, Wang Q, Hou Y, Jiang X, Reizes O, Lathia J, Nussinov R, Eng C, Cheng F (2019) A systems pharmacology approach uncovers wogonoside as a novel angiogenesis inhibitor of triple-negative breast cancer by targeting Hedgehog signalingCell Chemical Biology. 26: 1143-1158.

Peng H, Zeng X, Zhang D, Nussinov R, Cheng F (2019) A components attribute clustering (COAC) algorithm for single cell RNA sequencing data analysis and potential pathobiological implicationsPLoS Computational Biology, 15(2): e1006772

Cheng F, Liang H, Butte AJ, Eng C, Nussinov R (2019) Personal mutanomes meet modern oncology drug discovery and precision healthPharmacological Reviews71:1-19. (Journal Cover)

Wang Q, Chen R, Cheng F, Wei Q, Ji Y, Yang H, Zhong X, Tao R, Wen Z, Sutcliffe SJ, Liu C, Cook HE, Cox JN, Li B (2019) A Bayesian framework that integrates multi-omics data and gene networks predictes risk genes from Schizophreniz GWAS dataNature Neuroscience. 22(5): 691-699.

Cheng F, Liu C, Lu W, Fang J, Hou Y, Handy ED, Wang R, Zhao Y, Yang Y, Huang J, Hill ED, Vidal M, Eng C, Loscalzo J (2019) A genome-wide positioning systems network algorithm for in silico drug repurposingNature Communications. 10: 3476.

Cheng F, Kovacs I, Barabasi AL (2019) Network-based prediction of drug combinationsNature Communications, 10: 1197.

Cheng F, Desai JR, Handy ED, Wang R, Schneeweiss S, Barabasi AL, Loscalzo J (2018) Network-based approach to prediction and population-based validation of in silicodrug repurposingNature Communications. 9: 2691.

09/15/2021 |  

NIH Supplement Award for Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Repurposing

Feixiong Cheng, PhDGenomic Medicine Institute, has been awarded a one-year, nearly $325,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can accelerate the drug discovery process for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This award is an administrative supplement to his five-year, $3.3 million grant to develop computational tools to identify effective repurposable drugs for AD.

08/30/2021 |  

Developing Artificial Intelligence Tools for Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery

A multidisciplinary research team at Cleveland Clinic has been awarded a five-year, $4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can identify novel drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

08/05/2021 |  

Artificial Intelligence Predicts Cancer Therapy-Related Cardiac Risk

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to help identify cancer patients at increased risk for adverse cardiac outcomes, according to findings published in PLOS Medicine.

08/04/2021 |  

Investigating Sex Differences in COVID-19 Immune Response

A new Cleveland Clinic study has uncovered novel immunological insights into sex differences in COVID-19 susceptibility and severity that may help explain the elevated risk for severe illness and death observed in male COVID-19 patients. Published in Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, the findings could pave the way toward sex-specific prevention and treatment strategies for COVID-19.

07/22/2021 |  

GMI Researchers Receive Awards Promoting Diversity in Science

Feixiong Cheng, PhD, and Jessica Castrillon Lal, an adviser-graduate student pair, and Iris Nira Smith, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Charis Eng, MD, PhD, recently received awards to advance diversity and inclusion in science.

07/20/2021 |  

Artificial Intelligence Methodology for Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Repurposing

A Cleveland Clinic-led research team has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) methodology that may help accelerate drug discovery for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). According to findings published in Genome Research, the researchers utilized an AI methodology (termed GPSnet) to systematically uncover molecular targets and networks involving AD-associated brain immune cells, including astrocytes and microglia, and prioritized two common nasal corticosteroids as candidate drugs for AD treatment.

06/11/2021 |  

Network Medicine Links COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s Disease-like Cognitive Impairment

A new Cleveland Clinic-led study has identified mechanisms by which COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like dementia. The findings, published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, indicate an overlap between COVID-19 and brain changes common in AD, and may help inform risk management and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19-associated cognitive impairment.

02/08/2021 |  

Researchers Develop Interactive Platform to Identify Druggable Cancer Mutations

A Cleveland Clinic-led team of researchers has developed a personalized genomic medicine platform that will help advance genomic medicine research and genome-informed drug discovery, according to new study results published recently in Genome Biology.

01/06/2021 |  

Study Shows Machine Learning’s Potential to Predict Cancer Therapy-Related Cardiac Risk

Improvements in cancer care that help patients live longer have been linked to increased risk for cardiac dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, highlighting the clinical need for tools that can help assess risk of cancer therapy-related cardiac dysfunction (CTRCD).

11/09/2020 |  

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Use “Big Data” Approach to Identify Melatonin as Possible COVID-19 Treatment

Results from a new Cleveland Clinic-led study suggest that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is commonly used as an over-the-counter sleep aid, may be a viable treatment option for COVID-19.

09/02/2020 |  

NIH Supplement Award for COVID-19 Drug Repurposing

Feixiong Cheng, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute, has been awarded a one-year, $400,000 award from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to find effective treatments for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in older adults. This award is an administrative supplement to Dr. Cheng’s five-year, $3.3 million grant for the development of computational tools to identify novel repurposable drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.

07/15/2020 |  

Genetic Factors May Influence COVID-19 Susceptibility

A new Cleveland Clinic study has identified genetic factors that may influence susceptibility to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Published today in BMC Medicine, the study findings could guide personalized treatment for COVID-19.

04/08/2020 |  

$3.3M NIH Grant for Alzheimer’s Drug Repurposing

Feixiong Cheng, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute, has been awarded a 5-year, $3.3M grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop computational tools to identify novel repurposable drugs for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

03/16/2020 |  

Network-Based Drug Discovery for the Emerging COVID-19 Epidemic

Human coronaviruses (HCoV), including Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), can lead to epidemics with high morbidity and mortality. These epidemics emerge and mutate at such a rapid rate that traditional methods of drug discovery cannot keep up.

02/12/2020 |  

Harnessing AI for Drug Repurposing

Although conventional drug development aims to design drugs that selectively target a single molecular entity (e.g., a disease-driving protein), drugs often are found to interact with more than one target. These off-target interactions can be problematic as they may result in adverse effects and suboptimal drug effectiveness. However, therapeutics with multiple targets provide opportunities for repurposing drugs to treat diseases that do not yet have effective therapies, as long as the molecular targets with which a drug will interact can be comprehensively identified.

12/17/2019 |  

Network-Based Tool Predicts Disease Comorbidities

When more than one disease occurs in a single individual (i.e., disease comorbidity), interactions between the diseases may worsen each other, resulting in poorer health outcomes and increased healthcare costs. In a recent study published in NPJ Systems Biology and Applications, a team of researchers led by Feixiong Cheng, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute, developed a network-based methodology that may help predict relationships between multiple complex diseases as well as pinpoint potential therapeutic targets.

08/02/2019 |  

Human Interactome Illuminates Personalized Drug Discovery

While specific genetic mutations are known to increase disease risk, the assumption of a linear genotype-phenotype connection often proves overly simplistic. Research has found that genes and their products interact with each other to form a system of complex networks within a cell. Known as the human protein-protein interactome, these molecular networks influence cellular function and can lead to system-wide changes in cells that influence disease mechanisms and treatment resistance.

01/03/2019 |  

Personal Mutanomes Meet Precision Oncology

Thanks to remarkable scientific and technological advancements of late, researchers now have a deluge of sequencing data, which, with the right analysis, may help with the discovery and development of targeted cancer treatments. In a cover article published in Pharmacological Reviews, Cleveland Clinic’s Feixiong Cheng, PhD, Genomic Medicine, and collaborators review the current use of personal mutanomes in the discovery of modern oncology drugs, including therapies that are targeted to specific genomic or molecular profiles, as well as immunotherapies.