- B.S., Polymer Science, University of Science and Technology of China, 2001
- Ph.D., Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, 2007
- Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California--Los Angeles, 2007-2010
- American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant Award, 2013
- 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, 2013
Our research program combines principles of chemistry, biology and engineering to achieve biosynthesis beyond nature. Why? Increasing petroleum consumption has caused oil depletion and climate change, thus we have to explore sustainable approaches to energy and chemical feedstocks. While biosynthesis is a promising green technology, biological systems produce only a limited set of natural metabolites. To overcome this barrier, we will expand the metabolic capabilities of bacteria to biosynthesize various nonnatural metabolites that are useful biofuels, bulk chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
To achieve high-level biosynthesis of non-natural metabolites, our research theme is divided into three steps: First, artificial metabolic pathways are designed; second, protein evolution is performed to realize and optimize the designed pathways; third, metabolic flux is driven to the production of target compounds. Our research integrates techniques from synthetic biology, synthetic chemistry, protein engineering, metabolic engineering and biochemical engineering.
- Xiong M., Deng J., Woodruff A.P., Zhu M., Fu Y., Zhang, K. A Bio-Catalytic Approach to Aliphatic Ketones. Sci. Rep., 2012, 2:311.
- Zhang, K., Woodruff A.P., Xiong M., Zhou, J. and Dhande, Y.K. A Synthetic Metabolic Pathway for Production of Platform Chemical Isobutyric Acid. ChemSusChem 2011. Jul 8. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201100045.
- Zhang K, Li H, Cho K, Liao JC. Expanding metabolism for total biosynthesis of the nonnatural amino acid L-homoalanine. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2010 107, 6234-6239
- Zhang K, Sawaya MR, Eisenberg DS, Liao JC. Expanding metabolism for biosynthesis of nonnatural alcohols. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2008 105, 20653-20658
- Shen W, Zhang K, Kornfield JA, Tirrell DA. Tuning the erosion rate of artificial protein hydrogels through control of network topology. Nat. Mater. 2006 5, 153-158
- Zhang K, Diehl MR, Tirrell DA. Artificial polypeptide scaffold for protein immobilization. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005 127, 10136-10137
- Diehl MR, Zhang K, Lee H, Tirrell DA. Engineering cooperativity in biomotor-protein assemblies. Science, 2006 311, 1468-1471