RNA Faculty Spotlight – Zhonggang Hou, Biological Chemistry

Zhonggang Hou, Ph.D.
Research Investigator
Biological Chemistry
Medical School

Yan Zhang lab

CRISPR-Cas is a very diverse adaptive immune system found in bacteria and archaea. It uses a small RNA as guide to find and destroy its target. It has revolutionized the field of genome engineering once adapted as tools for use in Eukaryotes. However, only a very small fraction of CRISPR-Cas systems (<10%) have been adapted as tools so far. I am interested in exploring the diverse CRISPR-Cas systems in nature and adapting those with unique properties (e.g. CRISPR-Cas3) as tools for use in eukaryotic cells for genetic manipulation.

  • What is the role of RNA in your research?
    I study CRISPR-Cas, which is an RNA guided adaptive immune system in bacteria and archaea. These systems use small RNAs as guides to find and destroy their targets.
  • Who/what brought you to science?
    I am curious about everything unknown. The field of life science with all the fascinating molecular processes happening in various biological systems is the perfect place to satisfy my curiosity.
  • What brought you to the University of Michigan?
    The huge and vibrant community of life science research and fantastic core facility support.
  • What advice would you give to students who’d like to get more involved in research?
    Be passionate about your research. Don’t be afraid of failures.
  • Are there any opportunities for students to engage in your projects, currently or in the future?
    • What skills would they need?
      They need to be motivated and we can teach them everything else.
    • What could they expect to learn?
      Our research is quite interdisciplinary. Students will have opportunity to learn molecular biology, mammalian cell culture, genome engineering, bacteriology, bioinformatics or protein biochemistry depending on the specific project they take on.
  • What profession other than your own would you enjoy, or what is your favorite hobby? 
    Pilot, astronomer.

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