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Huimin Zhao

Profile picture for Huimin Zhao

Contact Information

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

Steven L. Miller Chair of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering


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

Research Description

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.

Additional Campus Affiliations

Steven L. Miller Chair, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Professor, Bioengineering
Professor, Biomedical and Translational Sciences
Department Affiliate, Chemistry
Professor, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Recent Publications

Cheong, C. B., Peh, G. R., Wei, Y., Rehka, T., Ang, E. L., Zhao, H., Zhang, C., & Lim, Y. H. (2023). A Spirobicyclo[3.1.0]Terpene from the Investigation of Sesquiterpene Synthases from Lactarius deliciosus. ACS chemical biology, 18(1), 134-140.

Guo, X., Bai, Z., Zhang, Y., Zhao, H., & Shi, S. (2023). Mining and application of constitutive promoters from Rhodosporidium toruloides. AMB Express, 13(1), Article 17.

Hu, M., Dinh, H. V., Shen, Y., Suthers, P. F., Foster, C. J., Call, C. M., Ye, X., Pratas, J., Fatma, Z., Zhao, H., Rabinowitz, J. D., & Maranas, C. D. (2023). Comparative study of two Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains with kinetic models at genome-scale. Metabolic Engineering, 76, 1-17.

Huang, C., Cui, H., Ren, H., & Zhao, H. (2023). Investigation of the Biosynthetic Mechanism of Bipentaromycin Featuring an Unprecedented Cyclic Head-to-Tail Dimeric Scaffold. JACS Au, 3(1), 195-203.

Jiang, G., Huang, C., Harrison, W., Li, H., Zhou, M., & Zhao, H. (2023). Ene Reductase Enabled Intramolecular β-C−H Functionalization of Substituted Cyclohexanones for Efficient Synthesis of Bridged Bicyclic Nitrogen Scaffolds. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 62(22), Article e202302125.

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