BME Lecture Series: Huimin Zhao, University of Illinois

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Huimin Zhao, Ph.D.
Steven L. Miller Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract: Synthetic biology is the design of novel or improved biological systems using engineering principles. It is a rapidly growing area with broad applications in medical, chemical, food and agricultural industries. In this talk, I will briefly discuss the challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology and highlight our recent work in the development and application of novel foundational synthetic biology tools. Specifically, I will introduce three interrelated stories, including: (1) development of the Illinois Biological Foundry for Advanced Biomanufacturing (iBioFAB) for next-generation synthetic biology applications; (2) development of new strategies and tools for discovery of novel natural products from genomes and metagenomes; and (3) development of genome-scale engineering tools for rapid metabolic engineering applications. 

Bio: Huimin Zhao is the Steven L. Miller Chair 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 bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1992 and his doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 under the guidance of 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. Zhao has authored and co-authored over 275 research articles and over 20 issued and pending patent applications with several being licensed by industry. In addition, he has given plenary, keynote or invited lectures in over 310 international meetings, universities, industries and research institutes. Eighteen of his former graduate students and postdocs became professors in the United States (7), China (8), Korea (2) and Egypt (1). Zhao received numerous research and teaching awards and honors, such as the Marvin Johnson Award (2017), Charles Thom Award (2016), Elmer Gaden Award (2014) and Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), His primary research interests are in the development and applications of synthetic biology tools to address society’s most daunting challenges in health, energy and sustainability, and in the fundamental aspects of enzyme catalysis, cell metabolism, gene regulation and cell differentiation.