Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois

Zhao receives 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship

Huimin Zhao, the Centennial Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was chosen to receive a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, as one of 181 distinguished scholars chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise.

Zhao’s research focuses on developing and applying synthetic biology tools to address challenges in human health and in energy. His group works to engineer proteins and pathways for drug discovery and development, gene therapy, and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. His research also provides greater understanding of the fundamental workings of proteins and pathways, which could unlock large-scale production of advanced biofuels and platform chemicals, and medical treatments from new classes of antibiotics to new therapeutic regimes for sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.

“I plan to use this award to support our ongoing efforts in developing new synthetic biology tools for discovery of novel bioactive natural products for treatment of human diseases,” Zhao said.

Zhao also is an affiliate of the chemistry, biochemistry, and bioengineering departments, the Energy of Biosciences Institute, the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, and the Institute for Genomic Biology, all at Illinois.

He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 and worked for the Dow Chemical Company before joining the faculty at Illinois in 2000. He has authored more than 120 research articles and 16 patents.

Zhao is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.