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Xin Zhang receives NSF CAREER Award
27 January 2020
xin zhang headshot

Xin Zhang, Paul Berg Early Career Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and of Molecular Biology, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in recognition of his work to “quantify  cellular proteome stress and recovery using chemical methods.”

The CAREER award is the NSF's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

The CAREER award will provide five years of funding to support Zhang’s research to develop new tools examining the effects of stresses on proteins in live cells. 

To understand how protein stress relates to cellular function, Zhang and his lab focus on developing a new class of fluorescent sensors that light up when they come into contact with unfolded proteins in cells. As existing proteome stress sensors are insufficient to enable quantitative studies on the dynamics of proteome stress and recovery, Zhang is developing a novel class of fluorogenic sensors, called the AgHalo sensor. Such reporters of proteome stress are highly sought after to advance the development of therapeutic strategies that enhance proteostasis to sustain stress. This project provides a variety of new tools for real-time determinations of cellular protein stresses and recovery. Success of this project will also provide quantitative knowledge of proteome aggregation and restoration in chronically stress cells.

Zhang's previous awards and honors include the Maximizing Investigators' Research Award from NIH in 2019, Pew Biomedical Scholarship in 2019, Scialog Fellowship in 2018, Sloan Research Fellowship in 2018, the Lloyd and Dottie Huck Early Career Award for 2015 to 2016, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface for 2014 to 2019, the American Chemical Society Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry in 2012, and the Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship Award for 2011 to 2014. His research has been published in journals including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cell Reports, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Angewandet Chemie International Edition.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Zhang was a research associate at the Scripps Research Institute, California. He earned a doctoral degree at the California Institute of Technology in 2010, a master's degree at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2004, and a bachelor's degree at the University of Science and Technology of China in 2001.