TIANJIN UNIVERSITY
HEALTH SCIENCES PLATFORM

Home / Research / Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Home / Research / Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Current Capabilities

·Drug metabolism, transport and toxicology

·Gene engineering, protein purification and analysis

·Large variety of cell culture based methods, incl. cell survival and apoptosis detection, as well as cultivation of human bone cells in vitro and in ex vivo

·Small molecule isolation and identification

·Whole-cell based biotransformation and protein production by secretion

·High-throughput amenable synthesis of small molecule libraries. Synthesis of up to 2000 compounds could be achieved using various HT-amenable reactions and platforms

Non-standard Equipment

·A modern fermentation unit with several vessels up to 12 L scale

·IRORI AccuTag system

·Microwave initiator (with automated sample changer)

  • Matthias Bureik

    The research in the Bureik group spans two primary areas: 1) Human drug metabolizing enzymes and 2) investigation of human CYP4Z1 and the treatment of breast cancer. A primary goal in the first area involves systematic testing of all variants of drug metabolizing cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs or P450s; see left figure below) and UDP glycosyltransferases (UGTs) identified in Chinese patients. This is expected to aid doctors in choosing the correct dosage for patients. In the second area, the group has successfully identified CYP4Z1 to be a fatty acid in-chain hydroxylase. In addition, additional substrates of this enzyme that are both structurally different and far better suited to screening procedures than fatty acids have been identified. A primary aim is to search for compounds that can act as CYP4Z1-activated prodrugs (right figure) and have potential for treatment of breast cancer.

  • Robert P. Borris

    The research of the Borris groups involves a) Validation of traditional medical practices, b) Discovery of novel biologically active natural products, c) Natural products used as dietary supplements, d) Phytochemical systematics, e) Application of NMR spectrometry to the structure determination of natural products, and f) Applications of high performance centrifugal partition chromatography to the isolation of biologically active natural products and other organic compounds.


  • Haixia Chen

    The research of the Chen group concerns isolation, identification, bioactivity, and mechanism of constituents from natural resources.  In particular, the group focuses on functional mechanism and structure-activity relationships of macromolecules (polysaccharides and proteins) as well as small biomolecules. Methods are being developed in the group to quantify bioactivity of polysaccharides and small biomolecules from Traditional Chinese Medicine and natural resources.  Additionally, the group investigates functional food and new medicine from natural sources.

  • Chang Chung

    The research in the Chung group focuses on understanding the role of microglia in neuroinflammation. Inflammation is a key component of pathophysiology of both acute injuries and chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Microglia activation/chemotaxis is prerequisite for microglia function whether neuroprotective or inflammatory, making understanding essential for design of rational approaches for therapeutic modulation and regulation of microglia proliferation and chemotaxis.  Emphasis is on control of activation/chemotaxis of resident microglia in the brain in early stages of neuroinflammation.  Unraveling complex networks of signaling downstream of P2Y12 receptor during microglia chemotaxis is an important target.  Elucidation of neurotoxic effects of microglia observed in depression is another area of research interests.

  • Benjamin Clark

    Research in the Clark group focuses on microbial natural products as applied to drug discovery, metabolomics, and chemical ecology. Microbes have long been a source of potent antimicrobial and anticancer agents, and we have a particular interest in marine and extremophilic microbes as a source of new drug leads. We also investigate chemical ecology: what role the metabolites serve for the microbe itself, and how are they involved in the interaction of microbes with other organisms. The group uses metabolic profiling and multivariate statistical techniques in all of these research avenues in order to classify samples, identify active components, and elucidate the interactions of molecules and organisms. While microbes are the primary focus of the group we also have experience working with plants and marine organisms if there are particularly interesting ecological questions to be addressed in these areas. 


  • Jun Dai

    The research efforts of the Dai group encompass two areas:  1) The role of retinoid-related orphan receptor RORα in controlling skin homeostatis, and 2) Control of normal mitosis by protein kinase haspin.  In the first area, the main interest is on the interplay between intra- and inter-cellular signaling pathways involved in control of skin tissue homeostasis and tumor development. Focuses on the role of the nuclear orphan receptor RORα in controlling keratinocyte differentiation and skin tumor formation, as well as the therapeutic potential of RORα agonists/antagonists in treatment of skin diseases.  In the second area, the group is interested in exploring the role of haspin in cancer development and the potential of haspin inhibitors as anti-tumor drugs.

  • Nasir Jalal

    Cancer research (finding new treatment options and improving upon the existing options)


  • Hyun Min Kim

    We are interested in understanding the DNA repair mechanism in the germline. Especially, we have focused on investigating the epigenetic regulation of DNA damage response and repair. We use a microscopic size nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study epigenetic control of DNA repair mechanism.


    Investigating the roles of conserved Epigenetic regulators in DNA repair and damage response.

    Investigating the role of novel and conserved gene of DNA repair and damage response.




  • Peiyuan Liu

    The main interest is focused on structural and functional studies of biologically and medically important macromolecules, mainly through protein crystallography, in couple with biochemical, cell biology and other approaches, to gain insights into structure-function relationship of these macromolecules.

  • Lizhi Mi

    We are interested in the structural and mechanistic basis of developmental signaling that are important in stem cell biology, cancer metastasis, and regenerative medicine. At structural levels, we want to understand: how developmental signaling molecules are regulated by extracellular micro-environment, how these molecules are recognized by cell surface receptors, and how these molecules are engaged with intracellular signaling cascades through lipid bilayer. At functional levels, we focus on understanding how ligand isoforms are distinguished by their targeted cells to generate distinct cellular outcomes, and how developmental signaling is involved in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Eventually, we want to explore potentials in therapeutic development against cancer and other human diseases.

  • Janak Pathak

    Research Interest: Osteoimmunology, bone biology, osteoporosis, tissue engeneering (bone and cartilage regeneration)


    My research is mainly focus on to unravle the mechanism of systemic inflammation-induced osteoporosis. 

    Fig: Mechanism of inflammation-induced osteoporosis


  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Yanfang Su

    The research in the group of Su encompasses three main areas, including a) Isolation and identification of bioactive natural compounds from medicinal plants, b) Quality control of traditional chinese medicines, 3) Research & development of new medicines of natural origin

  • Selvaraj Subramaniyam

    Fractionation and Screening of Tinospora cordifolia plant extracts and Bioassay for Anti-diabetic activity in the rodent animal model


  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Austin Surendranath

    Studies on inhibition of Human serum Paraoxonase: Effect of physiological and environmental toxic molecules. 


  • Songqing Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves research and development related to drug advancements and medicinal chemistry, including cardiovascular drugs, anti asthmatic drugs, anti-tumor drugs, anti-virus drugs, anti inflammatory and anti-bacteria drugs, anti-diabetes drugs, benzodiazepine-type hypnotic drugs, non-patented drug development and industrialization.  Synthesis of natural products and their structural modification is carried out in this group.

  • Donghua Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves the design, synthesis, and biological activity evaluation of new compounds, with focus on industrialization of generic drugs, intermediates, and fine chemicals.  Specific areas include 1) Design and synthesis of the Rho kinase inhibitor, 2) Design and synthesis of the PDE4 inhibitor, and 3) Design and synthesis of antihistamine drugs

  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Zhang Yan

    The Zhang group uses yeast genetics and a variety of biochemical and biophysical tools to investigate the intracellular trafficking of transition metals, the biosynthesis of metallo-cofactors, and the catalytic mechanisms of metallo-enzymes.

    The Zhang group is also interested in using gentically and enzymatically engeered microbes to produce valuable small molecules.

  • Hanchi Yan

    Include 1 or 2 small representative pictures of good quality

    Research in the Yan lab focuses on structure biology of protein or protein complex with significant biology function, particularly on structure and function of those important membrane proteins, such as photosynthetic membrane proteins, intramembrane proteases, membrane transporters, ion channels and cancer-related viral membrane proteins, etc.

    The Cartoon below shows substrate transport across membrane by transporter protein.

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Kun Zhang

    Expression and regulation of important enzymes in some metabolic pathways in microorganisms.

  • Jianyong Zhang

    The research in the group of ZHANG focuses on two areas: 1) Mechanisms of transcriptional regulation involved in canceroxidative stress response and a variety of health disorders by means of molecular biology method, 2) Mechanism study on interaction of host factors with retroelements and HIV-1 such as helicases, interferon-stimulate genes and RNA binding proteins etc.

  • Youcai Zhang

    The research in Zhang’s group focuses on the function of transporters and nuclear receptors in pharmacology and toxicology. The major projects include: 1) preclinical development of novel transporter/receptor-targeted drugs for metabolic diseases; 2) investigation of the role of intestinal microbiota in lipid metabolism; and 3) establishment of novel preclinical models to improve the prediction of drug-induced liver injury.

Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Current Capabilities

·Drug metabolism, transport and toxicology

·Gene engineering, protein purification and analysis

·Large variety of cell culture based methods, incl. cell survival and apoptosis detection, as well as cultivation of human bone cells in vitro and in ex vivo

·Small molecule isolation and identification

·Whole-cell based biotransformation and protein production by secretion

·High-throughput amenable synthesis of small molecule libraries. Synthesis of up to 2000 compounds could be achieved using various HT-amenable reactions and platforms

Non-standard Equipment

·A modern fermentation unit with several vessels up to 12 L scale

·IRORI AccuTag system

·Microwave initiator (with automated sample changer)

  • Matthias Bureik -- Leader

    The research in the Bureik group spans two primary areas: 1) Human drug metabolizing enzymes and 2) investigation of human CYP4Z1 and the treatment of breast cancer. A primary goal in the first area involves systematic testing of all variants of drug metabolizing cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs or P450s; see left figure below) and UDP glycosyltransferases (UGTs) identified in Chinese patients. This is expected to aid doctors in choosing the correct dosage for patients. In the second area, the group has successfully identified CYP4Z1 to be a fatty acid in-chain hydroxylase. In addition, additional substrates of this enzyme that are both structurally different and far better suited to screening procedures than fatty acids have been identified. A primary aim is to search for compounds that can act as CYP4Z1-activated prodrugs (right figure) and have potential for treatment of breast cancer.

  • Robert P. Borris

    The research of the Borris groups involves a) Validation of traditional medical practices, b) Discovery of novel biologically active natural products, c) Natural products used as dietary supplements, d) Phytochemical systematics, e) Application of NMR spectrometry to the structure determination of natural products, and f) Applications of high performance centrifugal partition chromatography to the isolation of biologically active natural products and other organic compounds.


  • Haixia Chen

    The research of the Chen group concerns isolation, identification, bioactivity, and mechanism of constituents from natural resources.  In particular, the group focuses on functional mechanism and structure-activity relationships of macromolecules (polysaccharides and proteins) as well as small biomolecules. Methods are being developed in the group to quantify bioactivity of polysaccharides and small biomolecules from Traditional Chinese Medicine and natural resources.  Additionally, the group investigates functional food and new medicine from natural sources.

  • Chang Chung

    The research in the Chung group focuses on understanding the role of microglia in neuroinflammation. Inflammation is a key component of pathophysiology of both acute injuries and chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Microglia activation/chemotaxis is prerequisite for microglia function whether neuroprotective or inflammatory, making understanding essential for design of rational approaches for therapeutic modulation and regulation of microglia proliferation and chemotaxis.  Emphasis is on control of activation/chemotaxis of resident microglia in the brain in early stages of neuroinflammation.  Unraveling complex networks of signaling downstream of P2Y12 receptor during microglia chemotaxis is an important target.  Elucidation of neurotoxic effects of microglia observed in depression is another area of research interests.

  • Benjamin Clark

    Research in the Clark group focuses on microbial natural products as applied to drug discovery, metabolomics, and chemical ecology. Microbes have long been a source of potent antimicrobial and anticancer agents, and we have a particular interest in marine and extremophilic microbes as a source of new drug leads. We also investigate chemical ecology: what role the metabolites serve for the microbe itself, and how are they involved in the interaction of microbes with other organisms. The group uses metabolic profiling and multivariate statistical techniques in all of these research avenues in order to classify samples, identify active components, and elucidate the interactions of molecules and organisms. While microbes are the primary focus of the group we also have experience working with plants and marine organisms if there are particularly interesting ecological questions to be addressed in these areas. 


  • Jun Dai

    The research efforts of the Dai group encompass two areas:  1) The role of retinoid-related orphan receptor RORα in controlling skin homeostatis, and 2) Control of normal mitosis by protein kinase haspin.  In the first area, the main interest is on the interplay between intra- and inter-cellular signaling pathways involved in control of skin tissue homeostasis and tumor development. Focuses on the role of the nuclear orphan receptor RORα in controlling keratinocyte differentiation and skin tumor formation, as well as the therapeutic potential of RORα agonists/antagonists in treatment of skin diseases.  In the second area, the group is interested in exploring the role of haspin in cancer development and the potential of haspin inhibitors as anti-tumor drugs.

  • Nasir Jalal -- Postdoctorals

    Cancer research (finding new treatment options and improving upon the existing options)


  • Hyun Min Kim

    We are interested in understanding the DNA repair mechanism in the germline. Especially, we have focused on investigating the epigenetic regulation of DNA damage response and repair. We use a microscopic size nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study epigenetic control of DNA repair mechanism.


    Investigating the roles of conserved Epigenetic regulators in DNA repair and damage response.

    Investigating the role of novel and conserved gene of DNA repair and damage response.




  • Peiyuan Liu

    The main interest is focused on structural and functional studies of biologically and medically important macromolecules, mainly through protein crystallography, in couple with biochemical, cell biology and other approaches, to gain insights into structure-function relationship of these macromolecules.

  • Lizhi Mi

    We are interested in the structural and mechanistic basis of developmental signaling that are important in stem cell biology, cancer metastasis, and regenerative medicine. At structural levels, we want to understand: how developmental signaling molecules are regulated by extracellular micro-environment, how these molecules are recognized by cell surface receptors, and how these molecules are engaged with intracellular signaling cascades through lipid bilayer. At functional levels, we focus on understanding how ligand isoforms are distinguished by their targeted cells to generate distinct cellular outcomes, and how developmental signaling is involved in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Eventually, we want to explore potentials in therapeutic development against cancer and other human diseases.

  • Janak Pathak -- Postdoctorals

    Research Interest: Osteoimmunology, bone biology, osteoporosis, tissue engeneering (bone and cartilage regeneration)


    My research is mainly focus on to unravle the mechanism of systemic inflammation-induced osteoporosis. 

    Fig: Mechanism of inflammation-induced osteoporosis


  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Yanfang Su

    The research in the group of Su encompasses three main areas, including a) Isolation and identification of bioactive natural compounds from medicinal plants, b) Quality control of traditional chinese medicines, 3) Research & development of new medicines of natural origin

  • Selvaraj Subramaniyam -- Postdoctorals

    Fractionation and Screening of Tinospora cordifolia plant extracts and Bioassay for Anti-diabetic activity in the rodent animal model


  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Austin Surendranath -- Postdoctorals

    Studies on inhibition of Human serum Paraoxonase: Effect of physiological and environmental toxic molecules. 


  • Songqing Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves research and development related to drug advancements and medicinal chemistry, including cardiovascular drugs, anti asthmatic drugs, anti-tumor drugs, anti-virus drugs, anti inflammatory and anti-bacteria drugs, anti-diabetes drugs, benzodiazepine-type hypnotic drugs, non-patented drug development and industrialization.  Synthesis of natural products and their structural modification is carried out in this group.

  • Donghua Wang

    The research in the group of Wang involves the design, synthesis, and biological activity evaluation of new compounds, with focus on industrialization of generic drugs, intermediates, and fine chemicals.  Specific areas include 1) Design and synthesis of the Rho kinase inhibitor, 2) Design and synthesis of the PDE4 inhibitor, and 3) Design and synthesis of antihistamine drugs

  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Zhang Yan

    The Zhang group uses yeast genetics and a variety of biochemical and biophysical tools to investigate the intracellular trafficking of transition metals, the biosynthesis of metallo-cofactors, and the catalytic mechanisms of metallo-enzymes.

    The Zhang group is also interested in using gentically and enzymatically engeered microbes to produce valuable small molecules.

  • Hanchi Yan

    Include 1 or 2 small representative pictures of good quality

    Research in the Yan lab focuses on structure biology of protein or protein complex with significant biology function, particularly on structure and function of those important membrane proteins, such as photosynthetic membrane proteins, intramembrane proteases, membrane transporters, ion channels and cancer-related viral membrane proteins, etc.

    The Cartoon below shows substrate transport across membrane by transporter protein.

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Kun Zhang

    Expression and regulation of important enzymes in some metabolic pathways in microorganisms.

  • Jianyong Zhang

    The research in the group of ZHANG focuses on two areas: 1) Mechanisms of transcriptional regulation involved in canceroxidative stress response and a variety of health disorders by means of molecular biology method, 2) Mechanism study on interaction of host factors with retroelements and HIV-1 such as helicases, interferon-stimulate genes and RNA binding proteins etc.

  • Youcai Zhang

    The research in Zhang’s group focuses on the function of transporters and nuclear receptors in pharmacology and toxicology. The major projects include: 1) preclinical development of novel transporter/receptor-targeted drugs for metabolic diseases; 2) investigation of the role of intestinal microbiota in lipid metabolism; and 3) establishment of novel preclinical models to improve the prediction of drug-induced liver injury.