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Zibo Chen, Ph.D.
Zibo Chen, Ph.D.
Zibo Chen obtained his B.Sc. degree in Life Sciences with First Class Honours from National University of Singapore (2013). He received his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry with David Baker and Frank DiMaio at the University of Washington (2013-2018) and did postdoctoral work in synthetic biology with Michael Elowitz at Caltech (2019-2022). He is a recipient of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, Damon Runyon Fellowship, Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize, MIT Technology Review 35 Under 35 (China), and Forbes 30 Under 30.
The focus of the BioProgramming lab is to program biological behaviors by designing de novo proteins and protein circuits that encode information and collectively carry out user-defined computations in test tubes and living cells. Research projects in the lab span from fundamental questions to real-world applications, and can be broadly classified into the following directions:
1. Molecular Computing with Protein Circuits. We design protein-based circuits that programmably and robustly carry out computations both inside and outside of cells, enabling one to predictably control cell functions. Circuit components are proteins designed from scratch using Rosetta, which allows full customization of their functionalities at the single molecule level.
2. Programmable Self-assembly of Proteins. Proteins in nature self-assemble into cages, fibers, sheets, and crystals that are critical to cellular functions. In most cases, the algorithms governing such assemblies are embedded in local interactions between adjacent proteins, allowing complex structures to autonomously arise from simple building blocks. We design information-bearing proteins that programmably assemble into desired shapes, which can provide versatile supramolecular structure motifs to study and alter cellular functions.
Chen, Z., Elowitz, M.B., 2021. Programmable protein circuit design. Cell 184, 2284–2301.
Chen, Z., Kibler, R.D., Hunt, A., Busch, F., Pearl, J., Jia, M., VanAernum, Z.L., Wicky, B.I.M., Dods, G., Liao, H., Wilken, M.S., Ciarlo, C., Green, S., El-Samad, H., Stamatoyannopoulos, J., Wysocki, V.H., Jewett, M.C., Boyken, S.E., Baker, D., 2020. De novo design of protein logic gates. Science 368, 78–84.
Chen, Z., 2019. Creating the protein version of DNA base pairing. Science 366, 965–965.
Chen, Z., Johnson, M.C., Chen, J., Bick, M.J., Boyken, S.E., Lin, B., De Yoreo, J.J., Kollman, J.M., Baker, D., DiMaio, F., 2019. Self-Assembling 2D Arrays with de Novo Protein Building Blocks. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 141, 8891–8895.
Chen, Z., Boyken, S.E., Jia, M., Busch, F., Flores-Solis, D., Bick, M.J., Lu, P., VanAernum, Z.L., Sahasrabuddhe, A., Langan, R.A., Bermeo, S., Brunette, T.J., Mulligan, V.K., Carter, L.P., DiMaio, F., Sgourakis, N.G., Wysocki, V.H., Baker, D., 2019. Programmable design of orthogonal protein heterodimers. Nature 565, 106–111.
Boyken, S.E., Chen, Z., Groves, B., Langan, R.A., Oberdorfer, G., Ford, A., Gilmore, J.M., Xu, C., DiMaio, F., Pereira, J.H., Sankaran, B., Seelig, G., Zwart, P.H., Baker, D., 2016. De novo design of protein homo-oligomers with modular hydrogen-bond network-mediated specificity. Science 352, 680–687.
We thrive to provide an inclusive research environment so everyone finds their time in our lab enjoyable and productive. Being a lab that works collaboratively across disciplines, we welcome individuals with various scientific backgrounds, including but not limited to, biology, computer science, electrical engineering, physics, material science, and chemistry. For current openings please see https://chenlab.org/page/join-us