Dr. Wei Zhang

Meet Dr. Wei Zhang


Keywords: Signal transduction, synthetic biology, protein engineering, DNA repair, cancer therapeutics, ubiquitin signaling, protein-protein interactions

Profile(s): Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Research Laboratory Page

Current Positions:

  • Assistant Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.
  • Azrieli Global Scholar – Molecular Architecture of Life program, Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Seeking Academic or Industry Partnerships in the Areas of (Optional/Consider!):

Protein Delivery, Drug Discovery, Target Validation

Education and Employment Background:

  • BSc – School of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University (Beijing, China)
  • PhD – Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto; Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto, ON)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow – The Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)

Research Themes & Interests:

My broad research interests are in the field of cellular signaling, protein engineering, chemical biology, and cancer therapeutics. The overarching goal of my laboratory is developing synthetic probes to manipulate human cell signal transduction cascades to identify new biological mechanisms and devise innovative therapeutic strategies. We are also collaborating with researchers from Canada and around the globe in both academic and industrial sectors. To date, I have published 24 papers in high-profile journals and 3 patents (1 granted, 2 pending) describing our work on a variety of protein-protein interactions that are critical for cancer signal transduction, host-pathogen interactions, DNA repair, and CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.

Recent Research Focuses & Partnerships:

  • Development of synthetic proteins to modulate human deubiquitinases
  • Engineering post-translational modifications to probe and rewire DNA damage response
  • Induced proximity with E3 ubiquitin ligases for targeted protein degradation

Recent Achievements and Contributions:

Select Publications:

  • Veggiani G, Gerpe MCR, Sidhu SS, Zhang W. (2019) Emerging drug development technologies targeting ubiquitination for cancer therapeutics. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 119, 139-154.
  • Zhang W, Sidhu SS. (2018) Drug development: Allosteric inhibitors hit USP7 hard. Nature Chemical Biology 14, 110-111.
  • Canny MD, Moatti N, Wan LC, Fradet-Turcotte A, Krasner D, Mateos-Gomez P, Zimmermann M, Orthwein A, Juang YC, Zhang W, Noordermeer SM, Seclen E, Wilson MD, Vorobyov A, Munro M, Ernst A, Ng TF, Cho T, Cannon P, Sidhu SS, Sicheri F, Durocher D. (2018) Inhibition of 53BP1 favors homology-dependent DNA repair and increases CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing efficiency. Nature Biotechnology 36, 95–102.
  • Gabrielsen M, Buetow L, Nakasone MA, Ahmed SF, Sibbet GJ, Smith BO, Zhang W*, Sidhu SS*, Huang DT*. (2017) A general strategy for discovery of inhibitors and activators of RING and U-box E3 ligases with ubiquitin variants. Molecular Cell 68, 456-470. (*Co-corresponding authors)
  • Zhang W, Ben-David M, Sidhu SS. (2017) Engineering cell signaling modulators from native protein-protein interactions. Current Opinion in Structural Biology 45, 25-35.
  • Zhang W, Bailey-Elkin BA, Knaap RCM, Khare B, Dalebout TJ, Johnson G, van Kasteren PB, McLeish N, Gu J, He W, Kikkert M, Mark BL, Sidhu SS. (2017) Potent and selective inhibition of pathogenic viruses by engineered ubiquitin variants. PLoS Pathogens 13(5): e1006372. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006372
  • Zhang W, Wu KP, Sartori MA, Kamadurai HB, Ordureau A, Jiang C, Mercredi PY, Murchie R, Hu J, Persaud A, Mukherjee M, Li N, Doye A, Walker JR, Sheng Y, Hao Z, Li Y, Brown KR, Lemichez E, Chen J, Tong Y, Harper JW, Moffat J, Rotin D, Schulman BA, Sidhu SS. (2016) System-wide modulation of HECT E3 ligases with selective ubiquitin variant probes. Molecular Cell 62, 121-36. ⌘ Highlighted in the issue with accompanied preview: Canadeo LA, Huibregtse JM. (2016) A billion ubiquitin variants to probe and modulate the UPS. Molecular Cell 62, 2-4.
  • Zhang W, Durocher D. (2010) De novo telomere formation is suppressed by the Mec1-dependent inhibition of Cdc13 accumulation at DNA breaks. Genes & Development 24, 502-15. ⌘ Highly recommended by Drs. Virginia Zakian (Princeton), David Shore (Geneva), and Katherine Friedman (Vanderbilt) on Faculty of 1000. ⌘ Featured as “Top 7 in Cancer Biology” in March 2011 by The Scientist magazine®
    • PubMed Compilation for Dr. Wei Zhang: Link Out


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Molecular Architecture of Life program.
  • Currently funded by the following agencies: CIHR, NSERC, Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Research Society, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, CIFAR  


Email: weizhang@uoguelph.ca

Phone: 519-824-4120 x 53823

Office: SSC 2243

Summerlee Science Complex
College of Biological Science
University of Guelph
50 Stone Road E.,
Guelph, ON, Canada, N1G 2W1