2023 RNA Society Early-Career Research Award Winner
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The RNA Society Early-Career Award recognizes an early-stage investigator - within the first 7 years of their independent research career - for outstanding scientific achievements. The 2023 award is presented to Dr. Jinwei Zhang, a Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Zhang obtained his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison based on his work on RNA polymerase in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Landick. As a post-doctoral researcher under the mentorship of Dr. Adrian Ferré-D’Amaré at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the NIH (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute), Dr. Zhang made outstanding contributions to tRNA recognition by regulatory elements in mRNA leaders termed T-boxes. As an independent scientist, Dr. Zhang employs structural biology and biophysical methods to understand noncoding RNA structure and recognition by interacting RNAs and proteins. His work includes understanding the structural basis of RNA/DNA hybrid recognition by a widely used antibody, double stranded RNA recognition by an innate immune system kinase, as well as a continued work on recognition of tRNAs and tRNA-like molecules by T-box RNAs and proteins such as the stress sensor Gcn2 and HIV Gag. His work has shed notable light on RNA recognition that should allow development of novel anti-bacterial and antiviral drugs. Dr. Zhang has been a member of the RNA society since 2014.