Jinwei Zhang, Ph.D.

Stadtman Investigator

Structural Biology of Noncoding RNAs and Ribonucleoproteins Section, Laboratory of Molecular Biology


BG 50 RM 4503



Research Topics

Research Goal

The goal of our research is to gain a detailed structural and mechanistic understanding of cellular and viral noncoding RNAs and their associated ribonucleoprotein complexes involved in gene regulation and human diseases.  We are working to uncover general motifs and principles that govern RNA tertiary structure formation, RNA recognition by another RNA or protein, and how dynamic RNA structures contribute to the regulation of gene expression and human pathophysiology.

Current Research

  1. Structure, mechanism, targeting, and engineering of gene-regulatory riboswitches
  2. tRNA-mediated stress sensing and response pathways in eukaryotes
  3. HIV and other viral RNA structures and their protein complexes

Applying our Research

Structural and mechanistic elucidation of functionally important gene-regulatory noncoding RNAs and viral RNAs will inform and guide design of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against bacterial and viral infections, metabolic disorders, and cancer.

Need for Further Study

Our research aims to help illuminate the molecular structure, function, and mechanisms of the  "dark matter" of the transcriptome, the non-coding RNAs that execute various cellular functions, as well as viral RNA strucures that enable viral transcription, replication, packaging, and infectivity. Detailed understanding of these non-coding structured RNAs will lead to novel therapeutics that improve human health.


  • Reserch Fellow, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, 2011-2015
  • Research Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2009-2011
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009
  • B.S., Peking University, 2002

Selected Publications

  1. Stagno JR, Liu Y, Bhandari YR, Conrad CE, Panja S, Swain M, Fan L, Nelson G, Li C, Wendel DR, White TA, Coe JD, Wiedorn MO, Knoska J, Oberthuer D, Tuckey RA, Yu P, Dyba M, Tarasov SG, Weierstall U, Grant TD, Schwieters CD, Zhang J, Ferré-D'Amaré AR, Fromme P, Draper DE, Liang M, Hunter MS, Boutet S, Tan K, Zuo X, Ji X, Barty A, Zatsepin NA, Chapman HN, Spence JC, Woodson SA, Wang YX. Structures of riboswitch RNA reaction states by mix-and-inject XFEL serial crystallography. Nature. 2017;541(7636):242-246.

  2. Zhang J. Brothers in arms: emerging roles of RNA epigenetics in DNA damage repair. Cell Biosci. 2017;7:24.

  3. Zhang J, Ferré-D'Amaré AR. The tRNA Elbow in Structure, Recognition and Evolution. Life (Basel). 2016;6(1).

  4. Zhang J, Ferré-DAmaré AR. Trying on tRNA for Size: RNase P and the T-box Riboswitch as Molecular Rulers. Biomolecules. 2016;6(2).

  5. Zhang J, Landick R. A Two-Way Street: Regulatory Interplay between RNA Polymerase and Nascent RNA Structure. Trends Biochem Sci. 2016;41(4):293-310.

This page was last updated on December 12th, 2018