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Zefeng WANG
Chair Professor


Zefeng Wang received his bachelor degrees as double major in Biological Science and Computer Technology from Tsinghua University in Beijing and master degree in Molecular Biology from Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Science. He received his PhD degree at Johns Hopkins Medical School at Baltimore, US, after which he worked a Damon Runyon fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He became an assistant professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007 and was promoted as associate professor with tenure in 2013.  In 2015, he moved his lab to Shanghai and became the director of the PICB, which is a partner institute jointly run by Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG). Since 2021 he was a group leader in CAS Shanghai Institute for Nutrition and Health.

Dr. Wang’s research focuses on the regulation of gene expression in RNA level. He has made significant contribution to the filed of RNA biology by developing a series of genomic approaches to study RNA splicing and dysgradation in a systematic fashion.  His lab has systematically identified splicing regulatory cis-elements and trans-factors, and further study how they interact to each other to control splicing in normal and disease conditions. He has also pioneered the filed of engineering RNA binding proteins and developed artificial proteins to specifically manipulate RNA metabolism. He has patented the technology of the “artificial site-specific RNA endonuclease” and “engineered splicing factors” that specifically change RNA stability and alternative splicing, which can be used as research tool or potential therapeutic reagents.  He has published >80 research papers that were widely cited, and his work was recognized by several research awards, including RNA Society/Scaringe Young Scientist Award, Alfred Sloan Research Fellow, Beckman Young Investigator, Mercator fellow, and Max-Planck Fellow etc. He also serves as the members of various scientific committee and the editorial board of several scientific journals.

Research Interests:

◆ Mechanisms of RNA alternative splicing

◆ Synthetic biology of RNA binding proteins

◆ RNA functional genomics

◆ Protein translation using circular RNA s

◆ Site-specific RNA editing and related uses by artificially constructed RNA-editing enzymes

Professional Experience:

◆ 2023-present Chair Professor, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUStech)

◆ 2021-2023 Professor and PI, CAS Shanghai Institute for Nutrition and Health

◆ 2015-2021   Professor and Director, CAS-MPG partner institute of computational biology

◆ 2013-2015   Associate Professor (with tenure), Dept. of Pharmacology, UNC at Chapel Hill

◆ 2007-2013   Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, UNC at Chapel Hill

◆ 2010-2015   Member, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

◆ 2002-2006  Post-doctoral fellow (Damon Runyon fellow), Dept. of Biology, MIT

Educational Background:

◆ 2002  Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine

◆ 1997  M.S. in Molecular Biology, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Science

◆ 1994  B.S. in Biochemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing

◆ 1994  B.E. in Electrical and Computer Techniques, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Honors & Awards:

◆ 2019  MOST innovation team leader in key fields

◆ 2019  Top 10 Advances in Bioinformatics in China

◆ 2017  Mercator fellow, German Research Foundation

◆ 2016  Max-Planck Fellow

◆ 2016  Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China, High-level talent returning to China program

◆ 2014  Shanghai One-thousand Talent plan

◆ 2012-2016   Jefferson-Pilot Fellowships in Academic Medicine Award

◆ 2009  Kimmel Scholar Award

◆ 2008-2011  Beckman Young Investigator

◆ 2008-2010   Alfred Sloan Research Fellow

◆ 2007   RNA Society/Scaringe Young Scientist Award

◆ 2006   NRMCB poster award for interdisciplinary science, 11th annual meeting of RNA Society

◆ 2003-2006   Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

◆ 2002  Paul Ehrlich Research Award (young investigator award for thesis research), Johns Hopkins University

◆ 1999  Burroughs Wellcome Fellowship, Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole, MA

◆ 1996-1997  DiAo scholarship, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing

◆ 1994 Graduate with highest honor from Tsinghua University, Beijing

◆ 1993-1994  Guang Hua scholarship, Tsinghua University, Beijing

◆ 1990-1993  Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Selected Publication:

◆ Wei H∗, Zheng L, Wang Z∗. mRNA therapeutics: New vaccination and beyond. Fundamental Research. Available online 16 March 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fmre.2023.02.022.

◆ Han W#,Huang W#, Wei T, Ye Y, Mao M*, Wang Z*. Programmable RNA base editing with a single gRNA-free enzyme. Nucleic Acids Research. 2022, Vol. 50, No. 16,9581-9595.

◆ Fan X#, Yang Y#, Chen C#, Wang Z*. Pervasive translation of circular RNAs driven by short IRES-like elements.Nature Communications. (2022) 13:3751. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31327-y.

◆ Wei H*, Fan X, Hu Y, Tian X, Guo M, Mao M, Fang Z, Wu P, Gao S, Peng C, Yang Y, Wang Z*. A systematic survey of PRMT interactomes reveals the key roles of arginine methylation in the global control of RNA splicing and translation. Science Bulletin 2021, 66(13):1342-1357.

◆ Chen C, Yang Y, Wang Z Study of circular RNA translation using reporter systems in living cells. Methods. 2021 Mar 20:S1046-2023(21)00077-3.

◆ Huang W, Ling Y, Zhang S, Xia Q, Cao R, Fan X, Fang Z, Wang Z*, Zhang G* (* co-corresponding author), TransCirc: an interactive database for translatable circular RNAs based on multi-omics evidence, Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Jan 8;49(D1):D236-D242. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa823.

◆ Zhang S# , Bao Y# , ShenX# , PanY# , Sun Y, Xiao M , Chen K, Wei H , Ji Zuo , Saffen D , Zong W, Sun Y*, Wang Z *, Wang Y* . RNA binding motif protein 10 suppresses lung cancer progression by controlling alternative splicing of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4H.EBioMedicine, 2020, 61:103067.

◆ Wang Y*, Bao Y, Zhang S, Wang Z*.Splicing dysregulation in cancer: from mechanistic understanding to a new class of therapeutic targets. April 2020 Vol.63 No.4: 469–484

◆ Yang Y*, Wang Z*. IRES-mediated cap-independent translation, a path leading to hidden proteome. J Mol Cell Biol. 2019,11(10), 911-919.

◆ Bindereif A, Wang Z . A joint adventure of Sino-German researchers to explore the wild world of RNAs. Journal of Molecular Cell (2019), 11(10), 811–812 Biology(10):10.

◆ Mao M, Hu Y, Yang Y, Qian Y, Wei HH, Fan W, Yang Y, Li X, Wang Z*. Modeling and predicting the activities of trans-acting splicing factors with machine learning.  Cell Systems, 2018 Nov 28;7(5):510-520.e4.

◆ Yang Y, Fan X, Mao M, Song X, Wu P, Zhang Y, Jin Y, Yang Y, Chen L, Wang Y, Wong CL , Xiao XG, Wang Z, Extensive translation of circular RNAs driven by N6-methyladenosine, Cell Research. 2017.03.10; (27):626~641

◆ Wang Y, Wang Z. Efficient backsplicing produces translatable circular mRNAs. RNA 2015 Feb;21(2):172-9. doi: 10.1261/rna.048272.114. Epub 2014 Dec 1. PubMed PMID: 25449546.  (First report of circRNA translation in cells)

◆ Wang Y, Chen D, Qian H, Tsai YS, Shao S, Dominguez D and Wang Z. RBM4 specifically controls alternative splicing to suppress tumor progression. Cancer Cell 2014 26(3):374-389. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2014.07.010.

◆ Wang Y, Xiao X, Zhang J, Choudhury R, Robertson A, Li K, Ma M, Burge CB and Wang Z.  A complex network of factors with overlapping affinities control splicing repression by intronic elements. Nature Structure Molecular Biology 2013 Jan;20(1):36-45. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2459. Epub 2012 Dec 16

◆ Choudhury R, Dominguez D, Wang Y and Wang Z. Engineering RNA endonucleases with customized sequence specificities. Nature Communication 2012 Oct 23;3:1147. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2154

◆ Wang Y, Ma M, Xiao XS and Wang Z. Intronic splicing enhancers, cognate splicing factors and context dependent regulation rules.  Nature Structure Molecular Biology, 2012 19(10):1044-52. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2377. Epub 2012 Sep 16

◆ Wang Y, Cheong CG, Hall TM, Wang Z. Engineering splicing factors with designed specificities (2009) Nature Methods, 6(11):825-30. Epub 2009 Oct 4.