Core Institute Member
Feng Zhang is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, and an associate professor at MIT, with joint appointments in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering. Zhang is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Zhang is a molecular biologist developing and applying novel molecular technologies for studying the brain. Zhang pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic cells – including human cells – from natural microbial CRISPR-Cas9 systems. He and his team have adapted multiple other CRISPR systems for use as genome engineering tools, including the RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas13 systems and the CRISPR-associated transposon systems, which can be used for gene insertion.
Zhang leverages CRISPR and other methods to study the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and are difficult to model using conventional methods. His lab’s tools, which he has made widely available, are also being used in the fields of immunology, clinical medicine, and cancer biology, among others. His long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for disease treatment.
Zhang is a recipient of many awards including the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Tang Prize, the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, and the Keio Medical Science Prize. He has also received technology innovation awards from the Paul G. Allen Family, McKnight, New York Stem Cell, and Damon Runyon foundations. Zhang is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Zhang received his A.B. in chemistry and physics from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.