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Wei Zhang


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021
  • Humans & the Microbiome




Wei Zhang studies protein-protein interactions (PPIs), which are essential to the proper function of cells.

His research program will provide a panel of intracellular probes to discover new biological functions for PPIs of interest, and a set of lead molecules to rewire dysregulated signal transduction cascades, thereby reversing human disease phenotypes.

Thanks to the advancement of genomics technologies in recent years, researchers now have a detailed understanding of the major biological processes in cells that rely on PPIs. Many of these processes have emerged as promising targets for pharmacological intervention in the treatment of human diseases. However, the development of effective PPI modulators has been hampered by the diversity, complexity, and dynamic regulation of the binding interfaces between proteins. To address this problem, Zhang is building an innovative protein design and engineering platform to deconstruct complex biological signaling pathways with unprecedented precision, and to screen for potential anti-cancer therapeutic agents.

In his first year as a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar, Zhang was affiliated with the Molecular Architecture of Life program.


  • Canadian Cancer Society Junior Investigator Grant Panel Travel Award, 2019
  • The Donnelly Centre Research Excellence Award, 2018
  • Cancer Research Society Scholarship for the Next Generation of Scientists, 2017
  • Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation, 2016

Relevant Publications

  • Veggiani G, Gerpe MCR, Sidhu SS, Zhang W. (2019) Emerging drug development technologies targeting ubiquitination for cancer therapeutics. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 199, 139-154.
  • 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. (*Corresponding authors)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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