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Ph. D. 2007-2010 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES).
Dissertation: “Phytoecdysteroid Accumulation in Plants and Biological Activities in Animal Models”.
Graduate Minor in Russian East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES).
M. Sc. 2004-2006 UIUC, NRES. Thesis: “In Vitro Production of Metabolism-Enhancing Phytochemicals from Three Central Asian Plant Species”.
B. Sc. 2000-2004 University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Magna cum laude, Molecular Biology.
Department Honors in Biology with Distinction. Minor in Chinese Studies.


Research and Work Experience

2013-2014 Senior Scientist, Nutrasorb LLC; Visiting Scientist, Ilya Raskin Laboratory, Rutgers University.
2010-2013 National Institutes of Health (NIH) NCCAM T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, Ilya Raskin Laboratory, Rutgers University.
Botanical Approaches to Combat the Metabolic Syndrome.
2004-2010 Graduate Research Assistant Mary Ann Lila Laboratory, UIUC. ICBG: Central Asia Program.
Phytochemical analysis and investigation of bioactivity of medicinal plants from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Aug.-Dec. 2009 Graduate Teching Assistant, Dr. Darin Eastburn, UIUC, Plant Pathology 200: Plants, Pathogens & People.
2001-2004 Undergraduate Research Assistant, Plant Developmental Biology, R. J. Schmidt Laboratory, UCSD.
Generation of gene overexpression constructs in Arabidopsis. Investigation of the role of PBF on protein production in Zea mays.
Jun.-Aug. 2003 Summer Research Assistant, USDA Forest Service, Institute of Forest Genetics, Andrew Groover, UC Davis.
Gene expression analysis of poplar orthologs of Arabidopsis shoot developmental genes.


Workshops / Certificates

  • Development and Validation of Analytical Methods for Dietary Supplements Workshop. The 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Phytochemical Society of North America. July 10-14, 2010.
  • Certificate in Business Administration [for Scientists]. School of Business, UIUC – Spring 2009.
  • Benjamin Banneker Science Program at Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club. University High School and Plant Sciences Lab, UIUC. April 14-15, 2009. Organizer, presenter.
  • Microarray Analysis Workshop. Keck Center, UIUC. November 20, 2008. Student.


Awards / Fellowships

  • NIH NCCAM T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship. Botanical Approaches to Combat the Metabolic Syndrome.
  • College of Agricultural Consumer & Environmental Sciences (ACES) Graduate Research Award nominee, NRES, UIUC – 2009 & 2010.
  • Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship, REEES, UIUC – Academic year 2007-2008.
  • Robert and Barbara AYRE Scholarship, ACES Academic Programs – Spring 2006.
  • NRES Department Educational Opportunity & Graduate College Travel Grants, UIUC – Spring 2006, ’07, ’08 & ’10.
  • NRES Department Jonathan Baldwin Turner Fellowship, UIUC – 2004-2006.
  • University of CA Leadership Enrichment through Advanced Degrees Fellowship, UCSD 2002-’04.
  • William B. Stout Fellowship, UCSD, 2002.



  • Book Chapters
    • Rojo, L. E., D. Roopchand, B. Graf, D. Cheng, D. Ribnicky, and I. Raskin. Role of anthocyanins in skin aging and UV-induced skin damage. In: Anthocyanins in Health and Disease. T. C. Wallace (ed.), CRC Press, ISBN 9781439894712, 2013.
    • Lila, M. A., Cheng, D. M. Comprehensive Strategies for Evaluating the Adaptogenic Properties of Phytochemicals. In: C. Carkeet, K. Grann, R. Randolph, D. Salter Venzon, & S. Izzy (Eds), Phytochemicals: Health Promotion and Therapeutic Potential. CRC Press, ISBN 9781466551626, 2012.

  • Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
    1. Cheng, D. M., Roopchand, D. E., Poulev, A., Kuhn, P., Armas-Gutierez, I., Johnson, W. D., Oren, A., Ribnicky, D., Zelzion, E., Bhattacharya, D., Raskin, I. High phenolics Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce improves glucose metabolism in high fat diet-induced obese mice. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., Vol. 60, No. 11, pp. 2367-2378, 2016.
    2. B. L. Graf, Cheng, D. M., Esposito, D., Shertel, T., Poulev, A., Plundrich, N., Itenberg, D., Dayan, N., Lila, M. A., and I. Raskin. Compounds leached from quinoa seeds inhibit matrix metalloproteinase activity and intracellular reactive oxygen species. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 212-221, 2015.
    3. D. M. Cheng, I. Raskin, C. Waterman, T. B. Tumer, and N. Dayan. Moringa Leaf Phytochemicals for Skin Benefits. Cosmetics and Toiletries, Vol. 129, No. 9, p. 16, 2014.
    4. Boudreau, A., Cheng, D. M., Ruiz, C., Ribnicky, D. M., Allain, L., Brassieur, C. R., Turnipseed, D. P., Cefalu, W. T., Floyd, Z. E. Screening native botanicals for bioactivity: An interdisciplinary approach. Nutrition, Vol. 30, No. 7-8, Supplement, pp. S11-S16. 2014.
    5. C. Waterman, D. M. Cheng, P. Rojas-Silva, A. Poulev, J. Dreifus, M. A. Lila, I. Raskin. Stable, water extractable isothiocyanates from Moringa oleifera leaves attenuate inflammation in vitro. Phytochemistry, Vol. 103, pp. 114-122, April 2014.
    6. D. M. Cheng, N. Pogrebnyak, P. Kuhn, C. G. Krueger, W. D. Johnson, I. Raskin. Development and Phytochemical Characterization of High Polyphenol Red Lettuce with Anti-Diabetic Properties. PLoS ONE, Vol. 9, No. 3, article e91571, 2014.
    7. D. M. Cheng, N. Pogrebnyak, P. Kuhn, A. Poulev, C. Waterman, P. Rojas-Silva, W. D. Johnson, and I. Raskin. Polyphenol-Rich Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce Improves Glucose Metabolism and Liver Lipid Accumulation in Diet Induced Obese C57BL/6 Mice. Nutrition, Vol. 30, No. 7-8, Supplement, pp. S52-S58, 2014.
    8. Grace, M., Guzman, I., Roopchand, D., Moskal, K., Cheng, D., Pogrebnyak, N., Raskin, I., Howell, A., and M. A. Lila. Stable binding of alternative protein-enriched food matrices with concentrated cranberry bioflavonoids for functional food applications. J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 61, No. 28, pp. 6856-6864, 2013.
    9. Cheng, D. M., Kutzler, L. W., Boler, D. D., Drnevich, J., Killefer, J. A., Lila, M. A. Effects of Continuous Infusion of 20-Hydroxyecdysone in C57BL/6 Mice. Phytotherapy Research, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 107-111, 2013.
    10. D. M. Cheng, P. Kuhn, A. Poulev, L. E. Rojo, M. A. Lila and I. Raskin. In Vivo and In Vitro Antidiabetic Effects of Aqueous Cinnamon Extract and Cinnamon Polyphenol-Enhanced Food Matrix. Food Chemistry, Vol. 135, No. 4, pp. 2994-3002, 2012.
    11. Roopchand, D. E., M. H. Grace, P. Kuhn, D. M. Cheng, N. Plundrich, A. Poulev, A. Howell, B. Fridlender, M. A. Lila, I. Raskin. Efficient sorption of polyphenols to soybean flour enables natural fortification of foods. Food Chemistry, Vol. 131, No. 4, pp.1193-1200, 2012.
    12. Cheng, D. M., Yousef, G. G., Lila, M. A. Variation of Phytoecdysteroid Accumulation in Seeds and Shoots of Spinacia oleracea L. Accessions. HortScience, 45:1634-1638, 2010.
    13. Cheng, D. M., G. G. Yousef, M. H. Grace, R. B. Rogers, J. Gorelick-Feldman, I. Raskin, M. A. Lila. In vitro production of metabolism-enhancing phytoecdysteroids from Ajuga turkestanica. Plant Cell, Tissue Organ Culture 93: 73-83, 2008.
    14. Grace, M. H., D. M. Cheng, I. Raskin, M. A. Lila. Neo-clerodane diterpenes from Ajuga turkestanica. Phytochem. Letters, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 81-84, 2008.
    15. J. Gorelick-Feldman, D. Maclean, N. Ilić, A. Poulev, M. A. Lila, D. Cheng, and I. Raskin. Phytoecdysteroids Increase Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle Cells. J. Agric. and Food Chem. 56: 3532-3537, 2008.
    16. Gad G. Yousef, Mary H. Grace, Diana M. Cheng, Igor V. Belolipov, Ilya Raskin, and Mary Ann Lila. Comparative phytochemical characterization of three Rhodiola species. Phytochemistry, 67, No. 21, 2380-2391, 2006.

  • Selected Conferences and Presentations
    • International Congress on Natural Products Research. New York, NY. July 28-Aug 1, 2012.
    • International Conference on the Science of Botanicals. Oxford, Mississippi. April 11-14, 2011.
    • Prevention of Metabolic Syndrome by Phytochemicals: A Symposium on the State of Science. Pennsylvania State University. October 14, 2010.
    • Developments in Botanical Dietary Supplements Research from 1994 to Today. Chicago, IL. March 23, 2010. Poster: Cheng, D. M., Kutzler, L. W., Boler, D. D., Drnevich, J., Killefer, J. A., Lila, M. A. Effects of Continuous Infusion of 20-Hydroxyecdysone in C57BL/6 Mice. Fitoterapia.
    • World Congress on In Vitro Biology 2008. Tucson, AZ. June 14-19, 2008. Poster: Cheng, D., Johnson, R. W., Raskin, I. and Lila, M. A. 2008. Inhibition of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines IL-6 and TNFα by Ajuga turkestanica Phytochemicals. In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol. 44:S77 Abstract P-2064.
    • 4th Symposium of International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups: Building New Pharmaceutical Capabilities in Central Asia. Chicago, IL. Sept 4-7, 2007. Presentation: Adaptogenic Properties of Ajuga turkestanica.
    • Experimental Biology 2007, Washington D.C. April 28-May 2, 2007. Poster: Cheng D, Yousef G, Grace M, Rogers RB, Lila MA. 2007. In Vitro Production of Phytoecdysteroids from Ajuga turkestanica. The FASEB Journal 21:A1079. Abstract 6763 P-842.2.
    • SIVB Annual Meeting 2006. Minneapolis, MN, June 5-7, 2006. Poster: Cheng D, Yousef G, Grace M, Rogers RB, Lila MA. 2006. In Vitro Production of Metabolism-Enhancing Phytochemicals from Rhodiola heterodonta and Rhodiola semenovii. In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol. 42:377. Abstract P-3014.
    • ICBG Central Asia: Biodiversity, Bioinformatics and Training Associate Program Training Course 2005. Tashkent, & Samarkand, Uzbekistan; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Nov 2005. Presentation: “Medicinal Plant Chemistry.”