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Professor Chi Zhang receives award to research real-time precision control of biomolecules in live cells



Professor Chi Zhang has been awarded Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of Health. This award provides a total of $1.7 million support over five years for the research on real-time precision control of biomolecules in live cells.

Dr. Chi Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry who join the Purdue Chemistry Analytical Division in 2020. His research has been focused on developing novel optical spectroscopy and imaging technologies for biomedical and material science.

In this funded research, Dr. Zhang will develop new tools to enable scientists to precisely control chemical reactions and biomolecular behaviors at submicron precision and in real-time. The new technology, known as real-time precision opto-control (RPOC), can detect chemical targets in cells and simultaneously control the chemical processes of only these molecules in live cells.

The pioneering work of RPOC is recently published in Nature Communications. In this research, Dr. Zhang’s group has collaborated with Jonathan Amy Facility in electronic hardware development and with Dr. Mingji Dai’s group in the synthesis of photoswitchable microtubule polymerization inhibitors. The first author of this paper is Matthew Clark, a fourth-year graduate student in Dr. Zhang’s lab.

RPOC is expected to have important applications in precision control of enzyme activities, precise controlled release, chemical-specific optogenetics, and precision treatment of diseases.