Zhang Awarded Marvin D. Rausch Fellowship

Xianzhi Zhang

Xianzhi Zhang (Rotello Group) Awarded the Marvin D. Rausch Fellowship for outstanding research in the area of organic or inorganic chemistry.

Research Summary: Bioorthogonal chemistry uses abiotic chemical processes to create a new toolkit for biological and biomedical applications. Bioorthogonal catalysis via transition metal catalysts (TMCs) provides a particularly promising direction that employs the high catalytic activity and chemical specificity inherent in TMCs. The direct application of TMCs in living cells is challenging due to the generally poor water solubility and instability of these hydrophobic catalysts in biological environments. In the Rotello lab, these issues can be addressed by incorporating TMCs into nanomaterials to generate bioorthogonal “nanozymes”. Nanozymes can activate imaging and therapeutic agents from their inactive precursors, creating on-demand “drug factories”. By engineering surface functionality and size of nanomaterials, I synthesized various nanozymes with biostability and/or stimuli responsiveness. Furthermore, I also designed and synthesized a library of substrates for nanozymes to broaden their applications for bioimaging, cancer chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The therapeutic potential of nanozymes was demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo, creating an anti-cancer treatment with increased efficacy and reduced side effects.