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Chenming (Mike) Zhang

  • Turner Faculty Fellow
  • Research areas: Protein expression and purification; bio-nanoparticle mediated drug delivery; vaccine development


Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1999

M.S., Physical and Analytical Chemistry, Iowa State University, 1996

B.S., Metallurgical Physical Chemistry, University of Science and Technology Beijing, China, 1988


2013-Present - Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering; VT-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (affiliated faculty), Virginia Tech

2007-2013 - Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering; VT-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (affiliated faculty), Virginia Tech

2001-2007 - Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

1999-2001 - Scientist, Purification Development, Covance Biotechnology Services, Inc., Cary, NC

Selected Major Awards

  • 2016 - Turner Faculty Fellowship
  • 2006 - National Academy of Engineering, Young Investigator Award/Vaccine Production Starter Grant
  • 2004 - Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award College of Engineering, Virginia Tech

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 2105 - Introduction to Biological Systems Engineering (team taught)
  • BSE 3524 - Unit operations in BSE
  • BSE 4514 - Industrial processing of biological materials (team taught)
  • BSE 4544 - Protein separation engineering
  • BSE 5614 - Advances in recombinant protein production

Other Teaching and Advising

I lead a joint MS program between Virginia Tech and the National Engineering School at Sfax, Tunisia.  The project is funded by the US State Department.

I am the chair of the departmental Assessment Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the continuous improvement of our undergraduate teaching program and the program accreditation by ABET.

Program Focus

My research program has three main focuses. 1) Protein expression and purification.  In this focus area, our main goal is to express certain proteins in selected expression system and develop economical processes for the recovery and purification of the recombinant proteins. 2) Bio-nanoparticle mediated drug delivery.  In this area, our main goal is to synthesize uniquely structured bio-nanoparticles for target drug delivery and controlled releases. The main applications of the bio-nanoparticles are in cancer therapy and possibly in inflammatory diseases. We envision these particles will have minimal basal drug release and can be specifically targeted to the desired cells and tissues. 3) Vaccine development.  In this area, our main goal is to develop vaccines against an important animal disease, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), and addictive drugs. However, the approaches will be drastically different.  For vaccine against PRRS, we focus on developing subunit vaccines, but for vaccines against abusive drugs, we focus on developing a nano-carrier system that can effectively present the haptens to the immune system.

Current Projects

  • Development of novel vaccines against drug abuse – Proof of concept study for vaccines against nicotine addiction – this project is funded by NIH-NIDA and the Juffress Memorial Trust.  It focuses on assembling a nano-carrier system to effectively present a nicotine hapten to the immune system.
  • A new drug delivery and release platform for cancer treatment – this projected is funded by USDA-NIFA through the VT Biodesign and Bioprocessing Center and by Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.  This project focuses on assembling uniquely structured bio-nanoparticles, which allow specific targeting of the particles to deliver encapsulated drug molecules inside the nanoparticles.

Selected Recent Publications

(* undergraduate student, ** graduate student, *** post-doc)

  • Zhao, Z.*. Powers, K., Hu, Y., Raleigh, M., Pentel, P., Zhang, C. 2017. Engineering of a hybrid nanoparticle-based nicotine nanovaccine as a next-generation immunotherapeutic strategy against nicotine addiction: a focus on hapten density. Biomaterials. In press. [IF15=8.387]
  • Zhao, Z.*, Lou, S.*, Hu, Y.*, Zhu, J., Zhang, C. 2017. A nano-in-nano polymer-dendrimer nanoparticle-based nanosystem for controlled multi-drug delivery. Molecular Pharmaceutics. In press. [IF15=4.342]
  • Hu, Y.*, Smith, D.*, Frazier, E.*, Hoerle, R.*, Ehrich, M., Zhang, C. 2016. The next generation nicotine vaccine: a novel and potent hybrid nanoparticle based nicotine vaccine. Biomaterials. 106: 228-239. [IF15=8.387]
  • Zhao, Z.*, Hu, Y.*, Hoerle, R.*, Devine, M.*, Raleigh, M., Pentel, P., Zhang, C. 2016. A nanoparticle-based nicotine vaccine and the influence of particle size on its immunogenicity and efficacy. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine. In press. [IF15/16=5.671]
  • Saylor, K.*, Zhang, C. 2016. A simple physiologically based pharmacokinetic model evaluating the effect of anti-nicotine antibodies on nicotine disposition in the brains of rats and humans. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 307: 150-164. [IF15/16=3.847]
  • Babahosseini, H.*, Srinivasaraghavan, V., Zhao, Z.*, Gillam, F., Childress, E., Strobl, J., Santos, W.L., Zhang, C. (Corresponding author), Agah, M. 2016. The Impact of sphingosine kinase inhibitor-loaded nanoparticles on bioelectrical and biomechanical properties of cancer cells. Lab on a Chip. 16: 188-198. [IF14/15=6.115]
  • Hu, Y.*, Zhao, Z.*, Ehrich, M., Fuhrman, K., Zhang, C. 2015. In vitro controlled release of antigen in dendritic cells using pH-sensitive liposome-polymeric hybrid nanoparticles. Polymer. 80: 171-179. [IF14/15=3.562] PMID: 26622069.
  • Hu, Y.*, Hoerle, R.*, Ehrich, M., Zhang, C. 2015. Engineering the lipid layer of lipid-PLGA hybrid nanoparticles for enhanced in vitro cellular uptake and improved stability. Acta Biomaterialia. 28: 149-159. [IF14/15=6.025] PMID: 26428192.
  • Watkins, R., Wu, L., Zhang, C., Davis, R., Xu, B. 2015. Natural Product-Based Nanomedicine: Recent Advances and Issues. International Journal of Nanomedicine.  10: 6055-6074. [IF14/15=4.383]
  • Murthy, A.*, Ni, Y., Meng, X.-J., Zhang, C. 2015. Production and evaluation of virus-like particles displaying immunogenic epitopes of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). International journal of molecular sciences. 16(4): 8382-8396. doi:10.3390/ijms16048382 [IF14/15=2.862] PMID: 25874763.
  • Fulton, A.*, Lai, H., Chen, Q., Zhang, C. 2015. Purification of Monoclonal Antibody against Ebola GP1 Protein Expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana. Journal of Chromatography A. 1389: 128-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2015.02.013. [IF14/15=4.169] PMID: 25746758.
  • Zheng, H.*, Hu, Y.*, Huang, W., de Villiers, S., Pentel, P., Zhang, J., Dorn, H., Ehrich, M., Zhang, C. 2015. Negatively charged carbon nanohorn supported cationic liposome nanoparticles: a novel delivery vehicle for anti-nicotine vaccine. Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.  11: 2197-2210.  [IF14/15=5.338] PMID: 26510313.
  • Hu, Y.*, Ehrich, M., Fuhrman, K., Zhang, C. 2014. In vitro performance of lipid-PLGA hybrid nanoparticles as an antigen delivery system: lipid composition matters. Nanoscale Research Letters. 9: 434. DOI: 10.1186/1556-276X-9-434. [IF14=2.779] PMCID: PMC4154617.
  • Chen, Q., Santi, L., Zhang, C. 2014. Plant-made biologics, BioMed Research International. 2014. (3 pages) DOI: 10.1155/2014/418064. (Open Access) [IF14=1.579] PMCID: PMC4060392.
  • Hu, J.*, Zhang, C. 2014. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) vaccines: current status and strategies to a universal vaccine. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. 61: 109-120. DOI: 10.1111/tbed.12016. [IF14=2.944]  PMID: 23343057.
  • Hu, Y.*, Zheng, H., Huang, W., Zhang, C. 2014. A novel and efficient nicotine vaccine using nano-lipoplex as a delivery vehicle. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. 10(1): 64-72. [IF14=2.366] PMID: 24091786.
  • Huang, W.*, Zhang, J., Dorn, H.C., Zhang, C. 2013. Assembly of bio-nanoparticles for double controlled drug release. PLoS One. 8(9):e74679. [IF13=3.534] PMID: 24040316.
  • Liu, C.*, Liu, C.-J., Yuan, X.-G., Zhang, C. 2013. Purification and characterization of recombinant envelope protein GP5 of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus from E. coli. Journal of Chromatography A. 1304: 133-137. [IF13=4.258] PMID: 23885665.
  • Badieyan, S.*, Bevan, D., Zhang, C. 2012. Probing the active site chemistry of β-glucosidases along the hydrolysis reaction pathway. Biochemistry. 51: 8907-8918. [IF12=3.377] PMID: 23043218.
  • Hu, J.*, Ni, Y., Meng, X.J., Zhang, C. 2012. Expression and purification of a chimeric protein consisting of the ectodomains of M and GP5 proteins of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Journal of Chromatography B. 911: 43-48. PMID: 23217304.
  • Ye, X.*, Zhang, C., Zhang, Y.-H.P. 2012. Engineering a large protein by combined rational and random approaches: Stabilizing the Clostridium thermocellum cellobiose phosphorylase. Molecular Biosystems. 8(6): 1815-1823. PMID: 22511238.
  • Badieyan, S.*, Bevan, D., Zhang, C. 2012. A Salt-Bridge Controlled by Ligand Binding Modulates the Hydrolysis Reaction in Cellulase C. Protein Engineering Design & Selection. 25: 223-233. PMID: 22419828.
  • Hu, J.*, Ni, Y., Dryman, B.A., Meng, X.J., Zhang, C. 2012. Immunogenicity study of plant-made oral subunit vaccine against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Vaccine. 30: 2068-2074. PMID: 22300722.
  • Hey, C.**, Zhang, C. 2011. Process development for antibody purification from tobacco by Protein A affinity chromatography. Chemical Engineering & Technology. 35(1):142-148.
  • Badieyan, S.**, Bevan, D., Zhang, C. 2011. Rational stabilization of cellulases based on molecular dynamics simulations. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 109(1):331-443.
  • Huang, W.**, Zhang, J., Dorn, H., Zhang, C. 2011. Assembly of single-walled carbon nanohorn supported liposome particles. Bioconjugate Chemistry. 22:2012-2016.
  • Huang, W.**, Zhang, C. 2011. Assembly and characterization of membrane protein-lipid particles. Journal of Biotechnology. 154: 60-67.
  • Ye, X.H.**, Zhu, Z., Zhang, C., Zhang, Y.-H. 2011. Fusion of a family 9 carbohydratecellulose-binding module improves the catalytic potential of Clostridium thermocellum cellodextrin phosphorylase on cellulose. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 92: 551-560.
  • Hu, J.**, Ni, Y., Dryman, B.A., Meng, X.J., Zhang, C. 2010. Purification of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus from cell culture using ultrafiltration and heparin affinity chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A. 1217: 3489-3493.
  • Ross, K.C.**, Zhang, C. 2010. Separation of Recombinant β-Glucuronidase from Transgenic Tobacco by Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction. Biochemical Engineering Journal. 49:343-350.
  • Pathange, L.P.**, Bevan, D., Zhang, C., 2009. Effects of protein microstructure on the retention time of T4 lysozyme variants in cation exchange chromatography. Analytical Chemistry. 81(2):649-655.
  • Pathange, L.P.**, Bevan, D., Zhang, C. 2008. Quantifying protein microstructure and electrostatic effects on the change in Gibbs free energy of binding in immobilized metal affinity chromatography. Analytical Chemistry. 80:1628-1640.
  • Holler, C.**, Zhang, C. 2008. Purification of an acidic recombinant protein from transgenic tobacco. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 99(4):902-909.
  • Matanin, B.**, Halbur, P., Meng, X.-J., Zhang, C. 2008. Purification of the major envelope protein GP5 of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) from native virions. Journal of Virological Methods. 147:127-135.
  • Holler, C.**, Vaughan, D., Zhang, C. 2007. Polyethyleneimine precipitation vs. anion exchange chromatography in fractionating recombinant -glucuronidase from transgenic tobacco extract. Journal of Chromatography A. 1142:98-105.
  • Pathange, L.P.**, Bevan, D., Larson, T., Zhang, C. 2006. Correlation between protein binding strength on immobilized metal affinity chromatography and the histidine-related protein surface structure: The effect of surface accessibility of histidine residue and its involvement in intramolecular interactions. Analytical Chemistry. 78(13):4443-4449.
  • Zhang, C. 2006. Protein recovery from tobacco extract by non-chromatographic methods. BioProcessing Journal. 5(1):19-23.

Selected Recent Funding

  • Novel nanovaccines against nicotine addiction. PI, NIH-NIDA (U01DA036850), $2,339,951, 7/1/2014-6/30/2018.
  • Development of novel vaccines against drug abuse – Proof of concept study for vaccines against nicotine addiction. PI, NIH-NIDA (1 R21 DA030083-01A1), $385,165, 4/1/2011-3/31/2013
  • Virginia Tech-National Engineering School of Sfax partnership: towards strengthening of higher education and research capacities for better serving the economic development priorities in Tunisia. PI, US Department of State, $300,011, 9/30/2009-12/31/2012.
  • A new drug delivery and release platform for cancer treatment. PI, USDA-NIFA, $56,048, 4/1/2011 – 3/31/2013.
  • Biodesign towards novel vaccines against hepatitis C virus. PI, USDA-CSREES, $73,573, 10/20/2008 – 8/14/2011.
  • Development of nanoparticle supported self-assembled virus envelope-like particles as vaccine candidates. PI, Juffress Memorial Trust, $20,000, 07/01/2010 – 12/31/2011.
  • A new approach for targeted drug delivery and controlled release. PI, Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Virginia Tech, $75,000, 07/01/2011-06/30/2012.