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. 

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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. 


Sound Interesting? Join us!

The Zhang lab is actively seeking staff scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. Contact us if you are interested in joining. 

Recent Highlights


 August 30, 2018

In collaboration with Osamu Nureki, we reported in Science an engineered Cas9 variant with expanded targeting space, SpCas9-NG. This variant can recognize relaxed NG PAMs.

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August 22, 2018

Celebrating the latest graduates of the Zhang lab, Drs. Jonathan Gootenberg and Omar Abudayyeh. Congratulations! Jonathan and Omar will be the inaugural McGovern Institute Fellows, continuing their successful scientific partnership in a joint lab starting in 2019.


february 15, 2018

Gootenberg, Abudayyeh, et al. publish SHERLOCKv2, a portable, multiplex nucleic acid detection system. SHERLOCKv2 is already being deployed in the field to help monitor infectious disease outbreaks.