Ayman Al Haj Zen | Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Hamad Bin Khalifa University


Ayman Al Haj Zen

Dr. Ayman Al Haj Zen (PhD)

Assistant Professor
College of Health and Life Sciences

  • Phone31 037 729
  • Office locationB137A, 1st Floor, LAS Building


Dr. Ayman Al Haj Zen received his Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Paris VII, where he studied the role of small proteoglycans in the regulation of vascular repair and atherosclerosis. Before joining the University of Oxford in 2010, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher at London Research Institute and the University of Bristol, investigating the role of cell-cell communication signaling in vascular development and regeneration. In Oxford, he was awarded an intermediate research fellowship from the British Heart Foundation (Oxford) Centre of Research Excellence in 2013 to establish his independent research program on therapeutic angiogenesis. Dr. Al Haj Zen joined the HBKU as an Assistant Professor on April 2019.


Research Interests

Dr. Al Haj Zen’s research is focused on the identification of new therapeutic targets and strategies to promote functional neovascularisation and reverse the microvasculature instability in chronic vascular diseases such as peripheral arterial disease, non-healing chronic wounds, and vascular dementia. The development of such vasoactive therapeutics would be an appealing restorative intervention to manage these disorders. He uses in vitro angiogenesis assays combined with high content (quantitative) imaging approaches to conduct medium to high throughput screens of small molecule, siRNA and miRNA libraries. Using this phenotype-driven approach, Tazarotene, third generation Retinoic Acid agonist, was identified to trigger neovascularisation and wound regeneration after injury. Besides, Dr. Al Haj Zen has an active interest to understand the role of paracrine signalling occurred between the newly growing microvascular network and the surrounding microenvironment using 2D/3D co-culture and organ-on-chip models. Going forward this approach will increase the potential of identification of new targets and strategies to be therapeutically translated for treating chronic vascular diseases.


Assistant Professor

College of Health and Life Sciences; Hamad Bin Khalifa University

2019 - present
  • Independent Research Fellow

    Division of Cardiovascular Medicine (Radcliffe Department of Medicine); University of Oxford

    2013 - 2019
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Division of Cardiovascular Medicine (Radcliffe Department of Medicine); University of Oxford

    2010 - 2013
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate

    Bristol Heart Institute; University of Bristol

    2008 - 2010
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    London Research Institute; Cancer Research UK

    2006 - 2008


Ph.D in Biology and Physiology of Circulatory system

University Denis Diderot (Paris VII), Paris/France

  • MSc in Cardiovascular Physiology

    University Denis Diderot (Paris VII), Paris/France

  • Postgraduate diploma in Biological and Medical Sciences

    University Denis Diderot (Paris VII), Paris/France

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)

    University of Aleppo; Aleppo/Syria


Selected Publications

  • Ayman Al Haj Zen

    Retinoid agonist for promoting angiogenesis and wound healing; Methods in Molecular Biology; 2019 (in press)

  • Martello A, Mellis D, Meloni M, Howarth A, Ebner D, Caporali A, Al Haj Zen A

    Phenotypic miRNA Screen Identifies miR-26b to Promote the Growth and Survival of Endothelial Cells; Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids; 2018 Aug 18,13:29-43.

  • Al Haj Zen A, Nawrot DA, Howarth A, Caporali A, Ebner D, Vernet A, Schneider JE, Bhattacharya S

    The retinoid agonist Tazarotene promotes angiogenesis and wound healing; Molecular Therapy; 2016 Oct,24(10):1745-1759.

  • Elkins JM, Fedele V, Szklarz M, Abdul Azeez KR, Salah E, Mikolajczyk J, Romanov S, Sepetov N, Huang XP, Roth BL, Al Haj Zen A, Fourches D, Muratov E, Tropsha A, Morris J, Teicher BA, Kunkel M, Polley E, Lackey KE, Atkinson FL, Overington JP, Bamborough P,

    Comprehensive characterization of the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set; Nature Biotechnology; 2016 Jan,34(1):95-103.

  • Al Haj Zen A, Madeddu P

    DLK1: a novel negative regulator of angiogenesis?; Cardiovascular Research; 2012 Feb 1,93(2):213-4.

  • Al Haj Zen A, Oikawa A, Bazan-Peregrino M, Meloni M, Emanueli C, Madeddu P

    Inhibition of delta-like-4-mediated signaling impairs reparative angiogenesis after ischemia; Circulation Research; 2010 Jul 23,107(2):283-93

  • Campagnolo P, Cesselli D, Al Haj Zen A, Beltrami AP, Kränkel N, Katare R, Angelini G, Emanueli C, Madeddu P

    Human adult vena saphena contains perivascular progenitor cells endowed with clonogenic and proangiogenic potential; Circulation; 2010 Apr 20,121(15):1735-45.

  • Al Haj Zen A, Madeddu P

    Notch signalling in ischaemia-induced angiogenesis; Biochemical Society Transactions; 2009 Dec,37 (Pt 6):1221-7.

  • Al Haj Zen A*, Gomez D*, Borges LF, Philippe M, Gutierrez PS, Jondeau G, Michel JB, Vranckx R

    Syndromic and non-syndromic aneurysms of the human ascending aorta share activation of the Smad2 pathway; Journal of Pathology; 2009 May,218(1):131-42.

  • Al Haj Zen A, Caligiuri G, Sainz J, Lemitre M, Demerens C, Lafont A

    Decorin overexpression reduces atherosclerosis development in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice; Atherosclerosis; 2006 Jul,187(1):31-9.

  • Al Haj Zen A*, Durand E*, Addad F, Brasselet C, Caligiuri G, Vinchon F, Lemarchand P, Desnos M, Bruneval P, Lafont A

    Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of superoxide dismutase and catalase decreases restenosis after balloon angioplasty; Journal of Vascular Research; 2005 May, 42(3):255-65

  • Al Haj Zen A, Lafont A, Durand E, Brasselet C, Lemarchand P, Godeau G, Gogly B

    Effect of adenovirus-mediated overexpression of decorin on metalloproteinases, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases and cytokines secretion by human gingival fibroblasts; Matrix Biology; 2003 May,22(3):251-8.