Dr. Wei Zhang

Assistant Professor and CIFAR Global Scholar
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Phone number: 
SSC 2243
SSC 2206

Graduate Research Opportunities

We are actively recruiting undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. Please contact me (weizhang@uoguelph.ca) to learn more about potential research projects. 







The research interests in my lab are in the field of ubiquitin signaling, protein engineering, targeted protein degradation, genome stability, and cancer therapeutics. In the past several years, my lab has been working on development of synthetic biology approaches to manipulate human cell signal transduction cascades to identify new molecular mechanisms and innovative therapeutic strategies. Since July 2018, when we started the independent lab at University of Guelph, we have published 20 papers in high impact journals.

We greatly appreciate the following agencies currently providing funding support to this laboratory: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and the Early Researcher Awards program funded by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges & Universities.

  • BSc – School of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University
  • PhD – Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
  • Postdoctoral Fellow - The Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto

In the Zhang lab, we create synthetic probes modulating protein-protein interactions to: 1) accelerate understanding of biology, and 2) facilitate development of novel therapeutics. For example, we systematically generated inhibitors and activators for E3 ubiquitin ligases to discover new enzyme catalytic mechanism and new E3 substrates: Zhang et al. Molecular Cell 2016Gabrielsen et al. Molecular Cell 2017 We also create molecular tools to increase CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing efficiency: Canny et al. Nature Biotechnology 2018 Finally, we showed that structure-based protein engineering enables development of anti-viral reagents for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus: Zhang et al. PLoS Pathogens 2017. Please check here for the complete list of publications.

Currently, we are interested in the following research projects:

  • Developing synthetic proteins to manipulate ubiquitin signaling for cancer therapeutics
  • Engineering protein-protein interactions to probe and rewire DNA damage reponse
  • Creating new molecules to recruit E3 ligases for targeted protein degradation

Complete list of publication and citations

#: Co-first authors; name in bold: Zhang lab members

Research Articles:

  • Aminu B#, Fux J#, Mallette E, Petersen N, Zhang W. (2022) Targeted Degradation of 53BP1 Using Ubiquitin Variant Induced Proximity. Biomolecules 12, 479.
  • Guo Y#, Liu Q#, Mallette E#, Caba C, Hou F, Fux J, LaPlante G, Dong A, Zhang Q, Zheng H, Tong Y, Zhang W. (2021) Structural and functional characterization of ubiquitin variant inhibitors for the JAMM-family deubiquitinases STAMBP and STAMBPL1. Journal of Biological Chemistry 297, 101107.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 


  • Liang CT#, Roscow O#, Zhang W. (2021) Recent developments in engineering protein-protein interactions using phage display. Protein Engineering, Design and Selection 34, 1-13.
  • LeBlanc N#, Mallette E#, Zhang W. (2021) Targeted modulation of E3 ligases using engineered ubiquitin variants. The FEBS Journal 288, 2143-2165.
  • Veggiani G#, Gerpe MCR#, Sidhu SS, Zhang W. (2019) Emerging drug development technologies targeting ubiquitination for cancer therapeutics. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 119, 139-154.

Book Chapter

  • Liu Q, LaPlante G, Zhang W*. (2022) Targeting the Ubiquitination Cascade for Drug Discovery. Protein Homeostasis in Drug Discovery: A Chemical Biology Perspective. 179-225. John Wiley & Sons. [Edited by Drs. Milka Kostic & Lyn H. Jones]


  • Liang CT#, Roscow O#, Zhang W*. (2023) Generation and charcterization of engineered ubiquitin variants to modulate the ubiquitin signaling cascade. Cold spring Harbor Protocols [in press}
  • Roscow O, Zhang W. (2021) Using phage display to develop ubiquitin variant modulators for E3 ligases. Journal of Visualized Experiments 174, e62950.

Postdoctoral Fellow: 

  • Dr. Evan Mallette
  • Dr. Tanner M. Tessier

Graduate students:

  • Qi Liu (PhD)
  • Bayonle Aminu (PhD)
  • Zane Stekel (MSc)
  • Nathaniel Petersen (MSc)


  • Olivia Roscow
  • Julia Fux

Undergraduate courses:

BIOC*4050: Protein & Nucleic Acid Structure

MBG*2040: Foundations in Molecular Biology and Genetics

MCB*4500/4510: Research Project in Molecular & Cellular Biology

MCB*4600: Topics in Molecular & Cellular Biology

Graduate courses:

MCB*6500: MSc Research Topics in Molecular & Cellular Biology

MCB*7500: PhD Research Topics in Molecular & Cellular Biology