CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois professor Huimin Zhao has received a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Zhao, the Centennial Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is one of 181 distinguished scholars chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.
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 metabolic pathways, which could unlock large-scale production of advanced biofuels and platform chemicals as well as medical treatments ranging from new classes of antibiotics to 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 Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology; the Energy Biosciences Institute; 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 Dow Chemical Co. before joining the faculty at Illinois in 2000. He has written more than 120 research articles and holds 16 patents.
Zhao is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.