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About Yi

Yi Tang is the Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and holds joint appointments in both the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Department of Bioengineering at UCLA. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and Material Science from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. After NIH postdoctoral training in Chemical Biology from Prof. Chaitan Khosla at Stanford University, he began his career at UCLA in 2004. His recent awards include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Allan P. Colburn Award (2009), the American Chemical Society (ACS) Biochemical Technology Division (BIOT) Young Investigator Award (2011), the ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2012), the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2012), NIH DP1 Director Pioneer Award (2012), the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (2014) and the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Charles Thom Award (2019).

What Excites You About the NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?

The BioPACIFIC MIP will provide, for the first time, a truly purpose-built platform for automated synthetic biology with engineered microorganisms that will open new avenues of research and drive discovery. The MIP infrastructure will enable us to extend our work on production of value-added pharmaceutical and agricultural compounds into the polymer space. This new NSF facility offers the research community a unique opportunity to stimulate collaboration between world-class material scientists and engineers that will produce entirely new, useful materials from microorganisms.

 Collaborations with Other BioPACIFIC Faculty

The nature of my group’s research necessitates collaboration, bringing together a diverse group of interdisciplinary scientists to explore interface of chemical, biology, and engineering. Serving as a BioPACIFIC MIP Co-PI at UCLA will enable my group to expand an ongoing collaboration with Hosea Nelson and Jose Rodriguez at UCLA, kickstart burgeoning efforts with Heather Maynard, and build entirely new ones with a tremendous group of colleagues at UCSB who aim to use the MIP’s new synthetic biology platform to make novel bio-derived polymers.


My research lab is interested in natural product biosynthesis and biocatalysis. In the natural products area, we elucidate biosynthetic pathways and develop enzymatic tools towards the combinatorial biosynthesis of natural products. In the biocatalysis area, we aim to discover and engineer enzymes that can be used in the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds. Extending these efforts through the merger of inverse design, automation, advanced characterization and materials engineering promises to take the field of biosynthesis in exciting new directions.

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