Mingjie Zhang obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Fudan University, Shanghai, in 1988, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Calgary, Canada, in 1994. After a brief postdoctoral training at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Canada, he established his own laboratory as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 1995. Zhang is currently a Kerry Holdings Professor of Science, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Chair Professor in the Division of Life Science, HKUST. He is a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.
Research in Zhang’s laboratory has been focusing on three areas. The first area concerns the structural and biochemical basis of synaptic signaling organization by scaffold proteins. The second area is how neurons develop polarity during their development and maintain the polarity in their adulthood. The third area is how mutations of genes encoding key synaptic signaling proteins disturb their normal functions and, thus, may cause brain disorders. Zhang’s lab has been approaching these two fundamental questions in neuroscience by a combination of structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology approaches. In addition to publishing extensively in scientific journals, Zhang has been dedicating huge amount of his energy to training younger generations of scientists. More than a dozen Ph.D. graduates and postdoctoral fellows trained in his lab have established independent research groups around the world.