Yongdong Zhao, MD, PhD

Yongdong Zhao, MD, PhD


On staff since July 2013

Children's Title: Attending Physician

Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Research Center: Center for Clinical and Translational Research

"My interest in pediatric rheumatology began as a postdoctoral fellow. Seeing the devastating effects of Juvenile dermatomyositis motivated me to obtain further training to better serve children with rheumatic diseases. I am thrilled to now have the opportunity to provide care to children with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases at Seattle Children's Hospital."

  • Dr. Zhao received his medical degree from Beijing Medical University (now Peking University Health Science Center). He completed his first stage of residency in surgery at Beijing Medical University and his doctorate in nutrition sciences from Purdue University. Dr. Zhao studied the pathogenesis of Juvenile dermatomyositis as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center and fellowship in pediatric rheumatology at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.

    During his rheumatology fellowship training, Dr. Zhao recognized the need for reliable and valid assessment tools, and systematic evaluation methods, for chronic nonbacterial osteomyelitis (CNO), also known as chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), a potentially debilitating condition. He developed a comprehensive MRI scoring tool to assess disease activity and damage. He used this tool in a retrospective study of children with CNO treated with TNF alpha inhibition, demonstrating significant improvements of disease activity and no damage progression.
    Dr. Zhao joined Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington in 2013. Dr. Zhao's main clinical focus has been the aggressive treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and other pediatric rheumatic diseases.

    • Stefanie Eagle Idaho 04.28.17

      Im so glad I made the trip to Washington with my 12 year old daughter who has CROMO. He is a leading authority on the disease and has dedicated a lot of time to try and understand CROMO. It brought me a lot of comfort to know my daughter is under the care of the very best. Seattles Children hospital is an amazing facility as well and we felt well taken care of by all involved to make that appointment possible. I would highly recommend Dr Zhao and his staff and Seattles Children's hospital to anyone.

  • Award Name Award Description Awarded By Award Date
    Walk to Cure Arthritis Medical Honoree, Renton, Washington 2016
    Young Investigators Initiative (YII) program United States Bone and Joint Initiative 2015
    Research Poster winner Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia 2013
    ACR State-of-the-Art Clinical Symposium Travel Grant American College of Rheumatology 2013
    The Norma H. Compton Outstanding Doctoral Student Award Purdue University 2006
    Young Investigator Award American Society for Clinical Nutrition 2005
    P&G Graduate Student Research Award American Society of Nutrition Sciences 2004
    • Zhao Y, Chauvin NA, Jaramillo D, Burnham JM
      Aggressive Therapy Reduces Disease Activity without Skeletal Damage Progression in Chronic Nonbacterial Osteomyelitis.
      25979712 The Journal of rheumatology , 2015 July : 42(7)1245-51
    • Zhao Y, Wallace C.
      Judicious use of biologicals in juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
      Curr Rheumatol Rep. , 2014 : 16(11)454 doi: 10.1007/s11926-014-0454-3.
    • Zhao Y, Cheong JM, Lee W, Wastney M, Martin BR, Weaver CM
      Tetracycline and calcium kinetics are comparable for estimating bone resorption in rats.
      20668254 The Journal of nutrition , 2010 Sept. : 140(9)1704-9 PMCID: PMC2924600
    • Martin BR, Braun MM, Wigertz K, Bryant R, Zhao Y, Lee W, Kempa-Steczko A, Weaver CM
      Fructo-oligosaccharides and calcium absorption and retention in adolescent girls.
      21041813 Journal of the American College of Nutrition , 2010 Aug. : 29(4)382-6
    • Ibarra M, Chou PM, Pachman LM, Zhao YD, Boskey AL
      Calcification in a case of circumscribed myositis ossificans.
      20360204 The Journal of rheumatology , 2010 Apr, : 37(4)876 PMCID: PMC3357497
    • Zhao Y, Urganus AL, Spevak L, Shrestha S, Doty SB, Boskey AL, Pachman LM
      Characterization of dystrophic calcification induced in mice by cardiotoxin.
      19690791 Calcified tissue international , 2009 Sept. : 85(3)267-75 PMCID: PMC2830143
    • Urganus AL, Zhao YD, Pachman LM
      Juvenile dermatomyositis calcifications selectively displayed markers of bone formation.
      19333978 Arthritis and rheumatism , 2009 Apr, 15 : 61(4)501-8 PMCID: PMC2741135
    • Zhao Y, Fedczyna TO, McVicker V, Caliendo J, Li H, Pachman LM
      Apoptosis in the skeletal muscle of untreated children with juvenile dermatomyositis: impact of duration of untreated disease.
      17704000 Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.) , 2007 Nov. : 125(2)165-72 PMCID: PMC2219965
    • Zhao Y, Fleet JC, Adamec J, Terry DE, Zhang X, Kemeh S, Davisson VJ, Weaver CM
      Effects of hindlimb unloading and bisphosphonates on the serum proteome of rats.
      17627911 Bone , 2007 Oct. : 41(4)646-58
    • Zhao Y, Martin BR, Weaver CM
      Calcium bioavailability of calcium carbonate fortified soymilk is equivalent to cow's milk in young women.
      16177199 The Journal of nutrition , 2005 Oct. : 135(10)2379-82
    • Zhao Y, Martin BR, Wastney ME, Schollum L, Weaver CM
      Acute versus chronic effects of whey proteins on calcium absorption in growing rats.
      16118403 Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.) , 2005 Sept. : 230(8)536-42
    • Cai DJ, Zhao Y, Glasier J, Cullen D, Barnes S, Turner CH, Wastney M, Weaver CM
      Comparative effect of soy protein, soy isoflavones, and 17beta-estradiol on bone metabolism in adult ovariectomized rats.
      15824856 Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research , 2005 May : 20(5)828-39
    • Zafar TA, Weaver CM, Zhao Y, Martin BR, Wastney ME
      Nondigestible oligosaccharides increase calcium absorption and suppress bone resorption in ovariectomized rats.
      14747679 The Journal of nutrition , 2004 Feb. : 134(2)399-402

  • Presentations Title Event Location Date
    Acute and chronic arthritis in children Alaska Native Medical Center Anchorage, AK 2014
  • Grant Title Grantor Amount Award Date
    Assessing the feasibility of using infrared thermal imaging to detect active bone lesions in chronic nonbacterial osteomyelitis CCTR Academic Enrichment Fund $25,000 2015 - 2016


Medical/Professional School

Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing
Purdue University, West Lafayette


Surgery - General, People's Hospital, Beijing Medical University, Beijing
Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Cincinnati


Pediatric Rheumatology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia

Clinical Interests

Diagnosing and treating children with rheumatic diseases including juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), vasculitis, linear scleroderma, systemic sclerosis, chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), periodic fever and other rare rheumatic disorders.

Research Description

My research goal is to build a well-rounded clinical research program investigating chronic nonbacterial osteomyelitis (CNO) or CRMO, an inflammatory bone disease with unknown cause, which results in bone pain and bone destruction in children. There is a lack of sensitive and reliable laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor disease activity. Imaging studies, especially magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), provide objective assessment of disease status. However, MRI analysis is currently descriptive, which hinders quantitative evaluation of response to treatment. My long-term goal is to develop comprehensive, reliable diagnostic and monitoring tools for CNO. Validated outcome measurements will enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutics on CNO in clinical trials. Inexpensive and reliable imaging is needed to improve the clinical care of CNO. I am currently evaluating the feasibility of using infrared thermal imaging to detect active lesions in CNO. My case study showed concordance of the anatomical locations of CNO lesion from MRI based on increased signal in bone marrow and that from infrared thermal image based on increased temperature. I will determine whether there is an increase of 95th percentile highest temperatures in the affected limb compared to that of unaffected limb in a prospective study of thermal imaging using MRI as a gold standard. This project is funded by the Academic Enrichment Fund (AEF) (1/2015-12/2016) through the Center of Clinical and Translational Research. The identification of reliable, inexpensive and sensitive biomarkers will greatly advance clinical diagnosis and monitoring in CNO. We hypothesize that the breakdown of bone collagen is increased by inflammation in CNO. This accelerated breakdown (resorption) of bone collagen can be measured with an established urinary bone biomarker, N-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (NTx). In this proposed project, I will determine the utility of urinary NTx as a biomarker of disease activity in CNO using MRI as a gold standard. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of different therapies for CNO. Due to the relative rarity of this condition, no single center has enough patients to answer this research question alone. Therefore, a collaborative approach must be taken. As a leader of the CRMO work group within CARRA, I am working with colleagues from North America, Germany and Turkey, Israel to develop consensus treatment plans for CNO.