Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the College
Minglei Zhao’s research has centered on understanding the structure and mechanism of biomolecules using biochemical and biophysical approaches, in particular X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. His doctoral work was focused on structural studies of so-called amyloid proteins, which are involved in such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. His work revealed structural relationships between toxic and non-toxic species formed by these proteins, and provided a basis for potential drug design and screening. Most recently, he has used cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy to determine atomic structures of a very conserved and important molecular machine involved in neural transmission. The structures reveal how neurons recycle the proteins critical for their communication.
Zhao’s research findings have been published in Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and eLife.
Zhao received a BS in biological sciences from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and earned his PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Most recently, he held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. Zhao will join the faculty of the University of Chicago in January 2017.