Peng Ji

Peng Ji

Position Title
Assistant Professor



Ji, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, specializes in perinatal nutrition and neurodevelopment. Ji completed his Ph.D. in animal sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and joined the UC Davis faculty in 2017. Prior to that he was a postdoctoral scholar at the William H. Minder Agricultural Institute and at the University of Illinois, and he originally came to UC Davis as an adjunct professor in the Department of Animal Science.

Research interests:

Perinatal nutrition, micronutrient, early-life infection, oxidative stress, inflammation, neuroimmunology, brain development, cognition and translational animal models  

Brief overview:

For human infants, the perinatal period is characterized by robust neuronal growth and development. Malnutrition and infections are risk factors that, if present in early childhood, may alter the trajectory of brain development, compromise cognitive function and even result in neuropsychiatric disorders.      

I am interested in studying the impact of perinatal nutrition on cognitive development and neuronal resilience or vulnerability to early-life infection. We use domestic piglets as a translational model because of the great similarity in their brain growth spurt to the brain growth spurt in human infants.

I take an interdisciplinary approach to answer the fundamental question of how nutrition affects metabolism, immune competence and brain development in healthy and pathological states.   


Current projects:

  • Determining effects of iron over-supplementation on brain metabolites, sociability and cognitive function of pre-weaning piglets  
  • Evaluating nutritional strategies to improve systemic and brain oxidative stress in response to immune challenges in weanling piglets
  • Investigating how respiratory viral infections regulate reactivity of microglial cells in the brains of piglets