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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 430 research articles and over 30 issued and pending patent applications. In addition, he has given over 490 plenary, keynote, or invited lectures. Thirty-seven (37) of his former graduate students and postdocs became professors or principal investigators around the world. Dr. Zhao received numerous research and teaching awards and honors such as AIChE Daniel I.C. Wang Award, AIChE FP&B Division Award, ECI Enzyme Engineering Award, ACS Marvin Johnson Award, and SIMB Charles Thom Award. His primary research interests are in the development and applications of synthetic biology, machine learning, and laboratory automation tools to address society’s most daunting challenges in health, energy, and sustainability.

Research Interests

Synthetic biology; AI/ML; automation; 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

Asserghine, A., Baby, A., Gao, E., Zhao, H., & Rodríguez-López, J. (2024). Inducing and real-time monitoring of lead (de)sulfation processes using scanning electrochemical microscopy for applications in the refurbishment of lead-acid batteries. Electrochimica Acta, 475, Article 143620.

Boob, A. G., Zhu, Z., Intasian, P., Jain, M., Petrov, VA., Lane, S. T., Tan, S.-I., Xun, G., & Zhao, H. (2024). CRISPR-COPIES: an in silico platform for discovery of neutral integration sites for CRISPR/Cas-facilitated gene integration. Nucleic acids research, 52(6), Article gkae062.

Boob, A. G., Chen, J., & Zhao, H. (2024). Enabling pathway design by multiplex experimentation and machine learning. Metabolic Engineering, 81, 70-87.

Burke, M. D., Denmark, S. E., Diao, Y., Han, J., Switzky, R., & Zhao, H. (2024). Molecule Maker Lab Institute: Accelerating, advancing, and democratizing molecular innovation. AI Magazine, 45(1), 117-123.

Dong, G., Zhao, Y., Ding, W., Xu, S., Zhang, Q., Zhao, H., & Shi, S. (2024). Metabolic engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for de novo production of odd-numbered medium-chain fatty acids. Metabolic Engineering, 82, 100-109.

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