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Principal Investigator

Headshot of Dr. Guocai Zhong

Guocai Zhong, PhD

Assistant Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute, Gene Therapy Center, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology


Guocai received his PhD in Pathobiology in 2009, after a joint PhD training in Professor Hong Ling’s lab at Harbin Medical University and Professor Wenhui Li’s lab at the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS), an HHMI-style research institute in Beijing, China. He then worked as a postdoc in the Li lab at NIBS and contributed to the discovery of sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) as a receptor for HBV and HDV infection. This discovery has been acknowledged as a milestone breakthrough in HBV research in the past three decades and has been honored by the 2021 Baruch S. Blumberg Prize, the highest honor for hepatitis B research, and the 2022 Future Science Prize in the Life Science category. He then joined Professor Michael Farzan’s lab at the Scripps Research Institute Florida campus and initiated RNA switch engineering studies -- a new research direction in the Farzan lab. Here, he completed a series of first and corresponding-author studies that moved artificial RNA switches from working efficiently in vitro to now functioning with wide dynamic ranges in animals. In late 2019, Guocai started his independent group at Shenzhen Bay Laboratory and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School in Shenzhen, China. In summer 2022, he joined the RNA Therapeutics Institute and Horae Gene Therapy Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Zhong Lab is focused on RNA switch engineering and regulatable gene therapy development.

Current Members

Headshot of Dr. Haimin Wang

Haimin Wang, MD

Sr. Research Scientist, Lab Manager

Haimin got her medical degree in 2007 and then received a 2-year residency training in China. She then switched her career path to doing research. Before joining Zhong lab at UMass Chan, she was a postdoc associate at the Scripps Research Institute, Florida campus.

Chengzhi headshotChengzhi Du, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate

Chengzhi received his PhD degree in Cancer Biology in 2019 from Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. He then did his first round postdoc training at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School. He joined the Zhong lab at UMass Chan on May 20, 2023.

Xiaojuan Tang

Visiting Graduate Student

Xiaojuan is a PhD student at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen, China. She joined Zhong lab at UMass Chan as a visiting graduate student since March 20, 2023.

Coming Soon

Mengjia headshotMengjia Lu, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate

Mengjia received her PhD degree in Chemical Genomics in July 2023 from Peking University, China. She will be joining us soon.

Lab Alumni

Wei Zhan. UMass Chan graduate student, did a rotation session in the Zhong lab in 2023.

Madhu Suresh. Former Research Associate (2023-2023); now Research Technologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Yujun Li, PhD. Former Associate Investigator (2020-2022); now Associate Professor and Co-Director of BSL-3 Laboratory at Shenzhen University Medical School, Shenzhen, China.

Hong Pan, PhD. Former postdoc (2020-2022); now Assistant Investigator at Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, China.

Weitong Yao, PhD. Former postdoc (2020-2022); now Assistant Investigator at Hubei Jiangxia Laboratory, Wuhan, China.

He Zhang. Former graduate student at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School (2021-2022); now graduate student at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Danting Ma. Former Research Assistant (2019-2022); now graduate student at Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China.

Xiaomei Fu. Former Research Assistant (2020-2022); now in industry.

Yifei Wang. Former Research Assistant (2019-2021); now graduate student at Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Paris, France.

Qin Zou.
Former Research Assistant (2019-2020); now in industry.

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