Biological Discovery & Engineering
The Zhang Lab studies BIOLOGICAL diversity to discover systems and processes that may be harnessed for the improvement of human health. We are particularly interested in creating biotechnologies for in vivo modulation of biological function and novel delivery vehicles.
A number of cellular therapeutics and tools for cellular modulation have been developed, such as RNAi and CRISPR-based technologies, providing avenues for genome and transcriptome engineering. We are continuing to expand the CRISPR toolbox as well as taking computational approaches to identify novel enzymes and systems in nature that hold promise for the development of new molecular technologies and therapeutics.
Delivery of molecular and cellular tools is perhaps the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of these treatments. Just as we will need to deploy a range of tools to effectively treat various diseases, we will need multiple delivery modes to ensure molecular tools reach the correct tissues and cell types. We are pursuing several lines of research to develop novel delivery approaches, including engineered viral vectors and exosomes.
Improving Human Health
Our end goal is to translate our technologies and knowledge into improved human health, through both therapeutic and diagnostic advances. We aim to create a complete suite of tools for cellular and genetic manipulation that can be used interchangeably with an array of delivery vehicles, offering a flexible, modular platform for precision medicine.
January 22, 2019
Strecker et al. describe the engineering of Cas12b for high-specificity genome editing in human cells. Cas12b is the third DNA-targeting CRISPR enzyme that has been harnessed for genome editing, further expanding the toolbox.
January 7, 2019
Congratulations to Dr. David Feldman! David presented his thesis work (with help from Dr. Seuss) on pooled optical screening.