Research and Teaching Interests
Single molecule biophysical chemistry, biomaterials, polymer chemistry, biological chemistry
Graduate student positions available
Our research program is in the area of single molecule biophysical chemistry. We are interested in the mechanical properties and conformational dynamics of elastic proteins. Elastic proteins are important structural and functional components in living cells. They serve as molecular springs in tissues to establish elastic connections and provide mechanical strength, elasticity, and extensibility. They are not only important for their biological functions in various biological processes, but also important building blocks for bottom-up construction of smart materials and mechanical devices on the nanoscale.
Our main research tool is single molecule atomic force microscopy. The AFM is a powerful technique allowing us to directly manipulate proteins one molecule at a time. We use the AFM to measure the mechanical properties of proteins, and monitor the folding/unfolding trajectories of single protein in real time. Our long term goal is to understand the mechanical properties of proteins at the single molecule level and use protein engineering techniques to design proteins with tailored mechanical properties to be used as functional and structural components for smart materials and nanomechanical devices.
1. Protein Mechanics and Engineering: combining protein engineering with single molecule AFM and computation, we rationally design and engineer proteins with tailored mechanical properties.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 4124-4131.
Acc. Chem. Res. 2010, 43, 1331-1341.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131,14050-14056.
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 2008, 105, 11152-11157.
Nature Nanotechnology, 2008, 3, 512-516.
2. Single Protein Folding/Unfolding Dynamics: we use single molecule force spectroscopy techniques to investigate the folding/unfolding dynamics and mechanism of proteins at the single molecule level.
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 2013, 110, 18156-18161.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 7992-8000.
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 2012, 103, 807-816.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 10428-10435.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 13347-13354.
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 2008, 105, 1885-1890.
3. Protein-based Biomaterials: using the knowledge from protein mechanics studies, we rationally design protein-based biomaterials with tailored mechanical properties for various biomedical applications. We rationally tailor macroscopic mechanical properties of these biomaterials by programming the molecular sequence, and thus nanomechanical properties, of protein building blocks at the single-molecule level.
Nature 2010, 465, 69 – 73.
Nature Communications 2013, 4.
Acta Biomaterialia 2013, 9, 6481-6491.
Langmuir 2012, 28, 2269-2274
Chem. Commun. 2008, 4144-4146.
4. Polymer physical chemistry using single molecule AFM: we use single molecule AFM to investigate the conformational change of polymers at the singel molecule level.
5. AFM imaing of biological materials
- 2013-present Professor and Canada Research Chair (University of British Columbia)
- 2009-2013 Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (University of British Columbia)
- 2004-2009 Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair(University of British Columbia)
- 2002-2004 Associate Research Scientist (Columbia University, USA)
- 1999-2002 Research Fellow (Mayo Medical Center, USA, Advisor: Prof. Julio M. Fernandez)
- 1993-1998 Ph.D. (Polymer Chemistry and Physics at Jilin University, China, Advisors: Profs. Jiacong Shen, Xi Zhang and Hermann E. Gaub)
- 1996-1997 Visiting PhD student (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, Advisor: Prof. Hermann E. Gaub)
- 1989-1993 B.Sc (Polymer Engineering, Tianjin University, China)
Awards and Honors
- 2020 AAAS Fellow (the American Association for the Advancement of Science)
- 2012 Changjiang Guest Chair Professorship (Jilin University, China)
- 2011 JILA Visiting Fellowship (JILA and University of Colorado, Boulder)
- 2011 Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
- 2010 JILA Distinguished Short-term Visiting Fellow (JILA and University of Colorado, Boulder)
- 2010 Charles McDowell Award for Research (UBC)
- 2006 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Investigator Award
- 2005 Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Early Career Award (UBC)