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Huimin Zhao

Steven L. Miller Chair, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Biosystems Design Research Theme Leader, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Huimin Zhao joined the University of Illinois in 2000. He holds appointments in chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics and bioengineering and is leader of the Biosystems Design theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Dr. Zhao has authored or co-authored more than 270 research papers and over 20 issued and pending patent applications. He has given over 310 plenary, keynote or invited lectures in various international meetings, universities, industries and research institutes. He received numerous research and teaching awards and honors, including being named fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Zhao received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Science & Technology of China.


"Genome-scale Engineering: A New Frontier in Synthetic Biology"

Advances in reading, writing and editing genomes have greatly expanded our ability to reprogram biological systems at the resolution of a single nucleotide and on the scale of a whole genome.  Such capacity has drastically accelerated the cycle of design, build and test in synthetic biology to construct organisms as cell factories for synthesis of fuels and chemicals.  In this presentation, I will highlight our recent work in the development of new molecular parts and tools for genome-scale engineering and our attempt in automating the design, build and test cycle.  Examples include but are not limited to: (a) development of an automated workflow for RNA interference based genome-scale engineering in S. cerevisiae; (b) development of a CRISPR/Cas9 and homology-directed repair assisted genome-scale engineering (CHAnGE) method that enables genome-scale engineering in S. cerevisiae with single nucleotide precision; and (3) development of a scalable artificial restriction enzyme platform that will facilitate automated high throughput plasmid construction and pathway engineering. 

Huimin Zhao