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Department of Neuroscience

Huan Bao, PhD

Scripps Research Affiliate
Department of Molecular Medicine
Florida Campus
Laboratory Website
(561) 228-2570

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

We are interested in developing biochemical and genetic tools that would transform basic and translational research of membrane biology. The origin of life involves enfolding a compartment to store material and information. As such, all cells and most cellular organelles are surrounded by membranes. This compartmentalization is vital for their specific function, but also requires fast and efficient communication among them to maintain homeostasis. To fulfill this need, membrane proteins, macromolecules embedded in or associated with the lipid bilayer, constantly catalyze myriad biochemical reactions across these water-impermeable barriers. These proteins are critical to promoting material shuttling, signal, and energy transduction in and out of the cell and its organelles. Thus, 20-30% genes encode membrane proteins, whose defects underlie the cause of many human diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, to name but a few. To understand the molecular mechanisms of membrane proteins, an enormous amount of efforts have focused on their structural and functional characterization over the past few decades. Despite recent rapid progress on resolving structures of membrane proteins, many more remain to be elucidated. This is limited mainly by their complex biochemical properties. To tackle this challenge, we engineer nanoparticles to ease the study and manipulation of membrane proteins using cell biology, single-molecule biophysics and structural approaches.

Professional Experience

2005 - 2008 Graduate Student, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2008 - 2014 Graduate Student, University of British Columbia
2014 - 2019 Postdoctoral Fellow, HHMI, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Awards & Professional Activities

  • NIH Director's New Innovator Award, conferred by NIH - NIGMS, 2020-2025

  • Career Development Award , conferred by Human Frontier Science Program, 2019 – 2022

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, conferred by Human Frontier Science Program, 2015 – 2018

  • Award for Outstanding Students Abroad, conferred by China Scholarship Council, 2013

  • Four-Year Fellowship, conferred by University of British Columbia, 2010 - 2012

  • Travel Award from the 2011 Gordon Conference on Mechanisms of Membrane transport

  • Travel Award from the 53rd Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Biochemistry, Molecular andCellular Biology, 2010

Selected References

Zhang S, Ren Q, Novick SJ, Strutzenberg TS, Griffin PR and Bao H (2021) One-step construction of circularized nanodiscs using SpyCatcher-SpyTag. Nat Commun. In press.

Bao H (2021) Developing Nanodisc-ID for label-free characterizations of membrane proteins. Commun Biol. 4(1): 514.

Bao H, Das D, Courtney N, Jiang Y, Briguglio J, Lou X, Roston D, Cui Q, Chanda B and Chapman ER. (2018) Dynamics and number of trans-SNARE complexes determine nascent fusion pore properties. Nature 554: 260-263.

Bao H, Goldschen-Ohm M, Jeggle P, Chanda B, Edwardson JM and Chapman ER. (2016) Exocytotic fusion pores are composed of both lipids and proteins. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 23(1): 67-73. (Cover paper)

Bao H and Duong F. (2012) Discovery of an auto-regulation mechanism for the maltose transporter MalFGK2. Plos One. 7(4): e34836.