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Personal profile

Personal profile

Dr. Huimin Zhao is the Steven L. Miller Chair Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and professor of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He received his B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1992 and his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Dr. Frances Arnold. Prior to joining UIUC in 2000, he was a project leader at the Industrial Biotechnology Laboratory of the Dow Chemical Company. He was promoted to full professor in 2008. Dr. Zhao has authored and co-authored over 340 research articles and over 30 issued and pending patent applications with several being licensed by industry. In addition, he has given plenary, keynote or invited lectures in over 390 international meetings, universities, industries, and research institutes. Twenty-five (25) of his former graduate students and postdocs became professors or principal investigators in the United States (9), China (Mainland 10, Taiwan 1), Korea (2), Singapore (2), and Egypt (1). 

Research Interests

Synthetic biology; natural product biosynthesis; protein engineering; metabolic engineering; genome engineering; directed evolution

Professional Information

Zhao group develops and applies synthetic biology, machine learning, and laboratory automation tools to engineer functionally improved or novel proteins, pathways, and genomes for biotechnological and biomedical applications. In parallel, Zhao group investigates the protein structure-function relationship, cell metabolism, and mechanisms of gene expression and regulation. The current research program in Zhao grouo centers on four distinct yet related areas, including foundational tool development, drug discovery and development, industrial biotechnology, and mammalian synthetic biology.

Office Address

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Illinois
215 RAL, Box C-3
600 S. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone

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Research Output

A ferredoxin-dependent dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase in Clostridium chromiireducens

Wang, F., Wei, Y., Lu, Q., Ang, E. L., Zhao, H. & Zhang, Y., Jul 2020, In : Bioscience Reports. 40, 7, BSR20201642.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • A genetic toolbox for metabolic engineering of Issatchenkia orientalis

    Cao, M., Fatma, Z., Song, X., Hsieh, P. H., Tran, V. G., Lyon, W. L., Sayadi, M., Shao, Z., Yoshikuni, Y. & Zhao, H., May 2020, In : Metabolic Engineering. 59, p. 87-97 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • A mass spectrometry-based high-throughput screening method for engineering fatty acid synthases with improved production of medium-chain fatty acids

    Xue, P., Si, T., Mishra, S., Zhang, L., Choe, K., Sweedler, J. V. & Zhao, H., Jul 1 2020, In : Biotechnology and bioengineering. 117, 7, p. 2131-2138 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • A New Biosensor for Stilbenes and a Cannabinoid Enabled by Genome Mining of a Transcriptional Regulator

    Sun, H., Zhao, H. & Ang, E. L., Apr 17 2020, In : ACS synthetic biology. 9, 4, p. 698-705 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • A pathway for degradation of uracil to acetyl coenzyme a in bacillus megaterium

    Zhu, D., Wei, Y., Yin, J., Liu, D., Ang, E. L., Zhao, H. & Zhang, Y., Apr 1 2020, In : Applied and environmental microbiology. 86, 7, e02837.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle