About the Lab

Lipid bilayer forms a water-impermeable barrier that defines the boundary of a cell and of specialized compartments within a cell. Membrane proteins are embedded in lipid bilayers and serve a wide range of essential cellular functions, such as mediating signal transduction across the membrane and facilitating uptake of nutrients and excretion of wastes. 

Dr. Zhou’s lab focuses on two families of proteins, membrane transport proteins that facilitate transmembrane flux of ions and small molecules, and membrane-embedded enzymes that are involved in synthesis and modification of lipids and fatty acids. Dr. Zhou’s lab applies structural, functional and computational methods to understand basic chemical and physical principles in membrane proteins: How substrates are recognized; what structural changes are required for substrate binding and translocation; and how substrates are translocated across the membrane or converted to a product. 

Since many of the membrane proteins are also validated drug targets, the lab is also involved in identifying inhibitors for these proteins.