钟超 Chao Zhong课题组介绍

Principal Investigator

钟超 Chao Zhong,Assistant Professor, PI
Office Address:Room 210, Building 3, SPST, No. 393 Huaxia Middle Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai



1997 to 2001, Bachelor of Engineering, Materials Science, Tianjin University;
2001 to 2004, Master degree in Materials Science, BUCT, Beijing;
2004 to 2009, Ph. D. in Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University;
2009 to 2011, Post-PhD, Department of MSE, University of Washington (Seattle);
2012 to 2014, Post-PhD, Department of EECS and Department of Biological Engineering, Synthetic Biology Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
2014-now PI & Assistant Professor, School of Physical Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University;
2015  Shu Guang Plan Award, by Shanghai Municipal Education Commission



Research Interests

The Zhong lab at the Materials and Physical Biology Division in the School of Physical Science & Technology (SPST) aims to leverage the power of synthetic biology to develop an integrative bio-inspired molecular engineering (IBME) program, through which new materials, nanotechnologies and devices are created by adapting and applying the ways that living organisms develop and function. The ultimate goal of our research is to create stimuli-responsive, self-regenerating and life-enhancing functional materials and devices by integrating synthetic biology, microbial engineering, materials science, nanotechnology and modern manufacturing tools.

Our current research efforts are mainly focused on structural amyloids, emerging molecular materials with attributes including intrinsic self-assembly, ultra-stability, outstanding mechanical properties and tunable functionalities. Traditionally considered as mis-folded structures relevant to several neurodegenerative diseases in mammals, amyloids have been increasingly recognized as functional building blocks in organisms. For example, they are closely associated with the catalysis of melanin synthesis in mammalian melanosomes; they also constitute the primary structural proteins in bacterial biofilms, and functional components of underwater adhesives in marine species.

Taking inspiration from biology, our research program in harnessing functional amyloids for new biomaterials and bionanotechnologies comprise four main thrusts:

(1) Living Functional Materials;

(2) Bio-inspired Underwater Adhesives;

(3) Dynamic Complex Assemblies and Biofabrication;

(4) Biofilms-interfaced Biocatalysis & Artificial Photosynthesis.

Our research is committed to advancing the emerging field of synthetic biology and pushing new frontiers in biomaterials research and bionanotechnologies.

(1)      Living Functional Materials

Engineering Living Functional Materials with Synthetic Biology

Living functional materials represent a conceptually new type of materials that possess multifunctional, self-healing and adaptable properties, created and organized in a distributed, bottom-up and environmentally sustainable manner. By leveraging the power of synthetic biology, we are developing a programmable living functional material platform based on bacterial biofilm systems. 

Our current efforts along this line include: 

1) programming E. coli cells to organize inorganic nano-objects (NOs) in a spatiotemporally precise fashion with light-inducible and chemical-inducible gene circuits (X. Wang et al. Advanced Materials 2018); 

2) reprogramming Bacillus subtilis extracelluar matrix protein with new functional properties by genetically appending peptide domains or proteins to the amyloid-like protein TasA and leveraging the intrinsic protein secretion pathway (J. Huang et al. Nature Chemical Biology 2018). 

3) engineering Living cellular glues with tunable adhesion performances, environmental responsiveness, and autonomous repairing features. (C. Zhang et al. Materials Today 2019)  

As another example, we recently demonstrated that TasA variants having fusion proteins as large as 630 amino acids could be secreted and assemble into nanofiber networks, outperforming the previously reported E.coli CsgA system (60 amino acids). Furthermore, the living biofilms can be engineered with tunable viscoelastic properties and therefore are printable with three-dimensional (3D) printing technique. Notably, the bio-manufactured living functional biofilms remain alive and are able to sense chemical signals, serving as long-lasting environmentally responsive materials. The programmable living functional material platform promises new opportunities in biocatalysis, bioremediation, bioadhesion and biomedicine.  

(2)      Bio-inspired Underwater Adhesives

Stay Tuned !    :)

(3)      Complex Assemblies & Bio-fabrication

Biological materials and systems are replete with diverse self-assemblies, including both non-equilibrium and equilibrium systems. Self-assemblies constitute the basis of many complex supramolecular structures, providing extraordinary functional properties and playing important physiological roles for various molecular materials and biological machines. Characteristic of such biological self-assemblies is its dynamic, adaptive, and environmentally responsive nature, providing an unparalleled potential for a future repertoire of multifunctional materials and nanotechnologies. Inherent to many biological assemblies is the additional feature of self-replication: DNA from DNA; cells from cells.

In mimicking the diverse complex assembling systems in nature, we leveraged the intrinsic self-assembling propensity of the fused in sarcoma (FUS) low complexity (LC) domain, along with a modular genetic strategy, to construct tailor-designed supramolecular structures with variable functionalities. By finely controlling the sequential assemblies and associated assembly kinetics, our strategy was suitable for creating random copolymer-like, multi-block, and self-sorted supramolecular fibers that can either display distinct fluorescent functionalities or allow the spatially controlled assembly of nano-objects in structure-dependent fashions (ACS Nano 2017).

In E. coli biofilms, the outer membrane-localized amyloidgenic CsgB proteins could act as nucleators to guide the efficient polymerization of the major curli fiber subunit protein CsgA into amyloid fibers on the cell surface. Inspired by such nucleation-directed assembly of amyloid fibrils in bacterial biofilms, we developed a CsgB-decorated DNA origami (CB-origami) to mimic protein nucleators in Escherichia coli biofilm that direct curli polymerization. We showed that CB-origami directed curli subunit CsgA monomers to form oligomers and then accelerated fibril formation by increasing the proliferation rate of primary pathways. Fibrils growed either out from (departure mode) or towards the nucleators (arrival mode), implying two distinct roles of CsgB: as nucleation sites and as trap sites to capture growing nanofibrils in vicinity. This origami nucleator thus provided an in vitro platform for mechanistically probing molecular nucleation and controlling directional fibril polymerization for bionanotechnology.(Nature Communications 2019)

(4)      Biofilms-interfaced Biocatalysis & Artificial Photosynthesis

Stay Tuned !   :)


June 3 2019   Our work “Programmable and printable bacillus subtilis biofilms as engineered living materials” was highlighted by Physicsworld news: “3D printing and genetic engineering bring biofilms to life”.

May 27 2019   A research paper “Exploiting Mammalian Low Complexity Domains for Liquid-liquid Phase Separation Driven Underwater Adhesive Coatings” has been accepted for publication in  Science Advances. (Congrats to Mengkui Cui!)

May 31 2019   Congratulations to Dr. Xinyu Wang for successful defense of his Ph.D. dissertation (Xinyu is the first Ph.D. recipient from our IBME group)!

April 3-4 2019   Spring tour · Mogan Mountain

Mar 25 2019   Our work “Engineered Bacillus subtilis biofilms as living glues” was highlighted by Materials today news: “‘Living glue’ inspired by nature”.

Feb 15 2019   A research paper Genetic Design of Multi-domain Functional Amyloids: Insights into Self-assembly and Functional Properties has been accepted for publication in Chemical Science. (Congrats to Mengkui Cui, Qi Qi and T. Gurry!)

Feb 14 2019   A research paper Directing Curli Polymerization with DNA Origami Nucleators has been accepted for publication in Nature Communications(Congrats to Xiuhai Mao and Ke Li!)

Jan 21 2019   Our work “Engineered Bacillus subtilis biofilms as living glues” was highlighted by Materials today news:“Living glues, inspired by marine animals”.

Dec 20 2018   A research paper “Engineered Bacillus subtilis biofilms as living glues” has been accepted for publication in Materials Today. (Congrats to Chen Zhang, Jiaofang Huang and Jicong Zhang!)

Dec 6 2018   Prof. Zhong has been invited to give a talk titled “Engineering Living Functional Materials with Synthetic Biology” at the 2018 Synthetic Biology & “living” Soft Functional Matter, to be held at the campus of HKUST.  Thanks for the symposium organizer, Prof. Fei Sun, for the invitation!   

Dec 3 2018   Our recent paper titled “Programmable and Printable Bacillus subtilis Biofilms as Engineered Living Materials” has now been published online in Nature Chemical Biology. Congrats to our first co-authors, Dr. Jiaofang Huang, Suying Liu and Chen Zhang! (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41589-018-0169-2)

Nov 22 2018   Professor Zhong and Ph.D student Mengkui Cui attended the 3rd International Conference on Biological and Biomimetic Adhesives (ICBBA 2018) conference held in Haifa, Israel.  Prof. Zhong gave a talk titled “Engineering Living Cellular Glues with Synthetic Biology” and Mengkui made a poster presentation based on his Ph.D. work about “LLPS Driven Protein-based Underwater Adhesive Coatings” at the conference.

Oct 19 2018   Prof. Zhong gave an invited talk at the Young Scientist Forum of the AsiaNANO 2018, held in Qingdao, on our research progress about Living Functional Materials based on Engineered Bacterial Biofilms. Special thanks to the Forum Chair, Prof. Lele Li, for his invitation!  

Sep 27 2018   Prof. Zhong gave a talk titled “ Engineering Living Functional Materials with Synthetic Biology” at the 3rd Bioengineering & Translational Medicine Conference 2018, held in Boston. Really nice to meet new and old friends!    

Aug 30 2018   Prof. Zhong has been invited to give a lecture on our research about “Bacterial Biofilms Inspiration: from Programmable Amyloid Materials (PAMs) to Living Functional Materials (LFMs)” at 3M (Shanghai). Thanks Dr. Yu for his invitation and hosting!   

Aug 1 2018   Prof. Zhong, Xinyu Wang, Yingfeng Li, Mengkui Cui, Bolin An and Suying Liu attended the ACS Publication Symposium: Innovation in Materials Science, held at the ShanghaiTech campus.  Dr. Zhong has been selected by the symposium organizers to give a talk in the session of Materials for Biology on “Programmable Bacterial Biofilms as Living Functional Materials”.   

Aug 1 2018   Ph.D. Students, Yingfeng Li and Mengkui Cui, along with the other three attendee, had been awarded the “Best Poster Award” by the organizer committee at the ACS Publication Symposium: Innovation in Materials Science. Well done!  

June 2018   A farewell party for Chen Zhang, Susu Ren (graduation with a master degree) and undergraduate student Junwei Du, Special thanks for their contributions to IBME.


June 2018   A collaborative paper “Adhesive Bacterial Amyloid Nanofibers-Mediated Growth of Metal-Organic Frameworks on Diverse Polymeric Substrates” has been accepted for publication in Chemical Science.  (In collaboration with Tao Li @ ShanghaitTech).

与李涛老师的合作文章 “Adhesive Bacterial Amyloid Nanofibers-Mediated Growth of Metal-Organic Frameworks on Diverse Polymeric Substrates” 被 Chemical Science 接收。

学校新闻: http://www.shanghaitech.edu.cn/2018/0613/c1001a28110/page.htm


June 2018   Professor Zhong and three Ph.D students Yingfeng Li, Xinyu Wang and Bolin An attended the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Bioinspired Multifunctional Dynamic Materials held in Switzerland(Les Diablerets Conference Center) from June 24 to 29, 2018. The three students made poster presentations, with the titles below:  

Yingfeng Li    “An amyloid-based fundamental building material with integrated genetically programmable functionality”

Xinyu Wang   “Programming Cells for Dynamic Assembly of Inorganic Nano-objects with Spatiotemporal Control”

Bolin An         “Engineering Living Cellular Glues with Synthetic Biology”


Prof. Zhong has been selected and recommended by the GRC Chair to present a short talk 'Engineering Living Cellular Glues with Synthetic Biology' at the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Bioinspired Multifunctional Dynamic Materials.

钟老师被Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Bioinspired Multifunctional Dynamic Materials会议主席邀请做题为'Engineering Living cellular glues with synthetic biology' short talk

June 2018   Our work published in Advanced Materials has been highlighted in Advanced News. Check the VEDIO highlight following the link below.   


April 2018   Mr. Xinyu Wang, a senior Ph.D student, gave an oral presentation titled “Dynamic Bio-abiotic Hybrid Structures: Constructions and Applications” at the 7th Spring World Congress on Engineering and Technology (SCET 2018) on April 23 in Guilin, China. 

2013级博士生王新宇参加于4月23-24号在桂林召开的2018年第七届春季国际工程与技术大会,并作题为“Dynamic Bio-abiotic Hybrid Structures: Constructions and Applications”报告。

April 2018   A communication paper titled “Programming Cells for Dynamic Assembly of Inorganic Nano-objects with Spatiotemporal Control” has now been published online in Advanced Materials (selected as inside back cover and highlighted in video abstract on the official website!)

通讯文章 “Programming Cells for Dynamic Assembly of Inorganic Nano-objects with Spatiotemporal Control”被在先进材料在线发表,并入选同期的内封面。该文章被先进材料编辑推荐在官方网站的视频摘要(video abstract) 中进行重点介绍。



学 校 新 闻:物质学院钟超课题组开发出智能细菌,可时空调控无机纳米材料的动态自组装
澎 湃 新 闻:生物智造:中国科学家打一束光,让细菌“打工”画纳米电路
CBG  资 讯:上海科技大学钟超研究员团队: 利用智能细菌时空调控无机纳米材料的动态自组装
材   料   牛:Adv. Mater.:用于动态组装无机纳米物体的编程单元
生 物 极 客:上科大钟超课题组先进材料发表文章借助细菌实现时空纳米材料组装
长 江 日 报:用一束光让细菌“干活” 未来你用的手机屏可能是细菌生产

April 2018   An invited review paper  “Emerging Paradigms for Synthetic Design of Functional Amyloids” has been accepted for publication in Journal of Molecular Biology, in the upcoming theme issue “functional amyloids”. (Congrats to Yanyi Wang, Jiahua Pu and Bolin An!).    

邀请综述文章“Emerging Paradigms for Synthetic Design of Functional Amyloids”被Journal of Molecular Biology接收,恭喜王艳怡、濮嘉华和安柏霖!

Jan 2018   A communication paper titled “Programming Cells for Dynamic Assembly of Inorganic Nano-objects with Spatiotemporal Control” has been accepted for publication in Advanced Materials. (Congrats to Xinyu Wang, Jiahua Pu and Bolin An!)

通讯文章 “Programming Cells for Dynamic Assembly of Inorganic Nano-objects with Spatiotemporal Control” 被先进材料接受,恭喜博士生王新宇、濮嘉华和安柏霖!

Jan 2018   A collaborative paper “Programming Integrative Extracellular and Intracellular Biocatalysis for Rapid, Robust, and Recyclable Synthesis of Trehalose” has been accepted for publication in ACS Catalysis.  (In collaboration with Dr. Ling Jang and Dr. He Huang @Nanjing Tech).

与南京工大的合作文章 “Programming Integrative Extracellular and Intracellular Biocatalysis for Rapid, Robust, and Recyclable Synthesis of Trehalose” 被ACS Catalysis接收。(合作者:南京工业大学黄和教授与江凌博士)

Dec 2017   A farewell party for postdoc Xiuhai Mao and Mr. Tianxin Zhao (graduation with a master degree), Special thanks for their contributions to IBME.

毛秀海博士和赵田鑫的告别欢送聚会——火锅欢送会, IBME课题组感谢他们的贡献并祝愿他们前程似景!

Dec 2017   In collaboration with Professor Timothy K. Lu group at MIT, the Zhong group has recently been awarded “the MIT Greater China Fund for Innovation”. The funding supports collaborations between faculty at MIT and their counterparts in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Nov 2017   Dr. Zhong’s expert comment on recent work published inAdvanced Materials Interfacesappeared in  “Inside Science”

Oct 2017   Dr. Zhong’s expert comment on recent work published in Science Advances appeared in Science News.

Oct 2017   崔孟奎、任苏苏及魏世操以“Natural and Bio-inspired Underwater Adhesives: Current Progress and New Perspectives”为题的文章,被 APL Materials接收。

Sept 2017   上海科技大学成功承办第295期东方科技论坛。

July 2017   15级硕士研究生张琛(右三)在第三届合成生物学青年学者论坛获“优秀墙报奖”。

July 2017   博士研究生安柏霖与王新宇以“Diverse Supramolecular Nanofiber Networks Made by Complex Assembly of Functional Low-Complexity Domains”为题的文章,被 ACS NANO 接收。

Oct 2016   钟超老师携2014级本科生在2016年国际基因工程机器大赛(the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, iGEM)荣获金奖。

Spring 2015   Dr. Zhong’s expert comment on recent work about underwater adhesives appeared in Nature Outlook.

Selected Publications

# Equal contribution* Corresponding author

  1. X. Mao, K. Li, M. Liu, X. Wang, T. Zhao, B. An, M. Cui, Y. Li, J. Pu, J. Li, L. Wang, T. K. Lu, C. Fan*, and C. Zhong*. Directing Curli Polymerization with DNA Origami Nucleators. Nature communications 2019, In press. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09369-6.

  2. M. Cui#,Q. Qi#, T. Gurry#, T. Zhao,B. An , J. Pu, X. Gui, A. Cheng, S. Zhang, D. Xun, M. Becce, F. Vangosa, C. Liu, T. K. Lu, C. Zhong* Genetic Design of Multi-domain Functional Amyloids: Insights into Self-assembly and Functional Properties, Chemical Science 2019, In press. DOI: 10.1039/C9SC00208A.

  3. C. Zhang#, J. Huang#, J. Zhang#, S. Liu, M. Cui, B. An, X. Wang, J. Pu, T. Zhao, C. Fan, T. K.Lu, C. Zhong*, Engineered Bacillus subtilis biofilms as living glues, Materials Today 2019, In press. DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2018.12.039.

  4. J. Huang#, S. Liu#, C. Zhang#, X. Wang, J. Pu, F. Ba, S. Xue, H. Ye, T. Zhao, K. Li, Y. Wang, J. Zhang, L. Wang, C. Fan, T. K. Lu, C. Zhong*, Programmable and Printable Bacillus subtilis Biofilms as Engineered Living Materials. Nature Chemical Biology 2019, 15, 34–41.

  5. X. Wang#, J. Pu#, B. An#, Y. Li,Y. Shang, Z. Ning, Y. Liu, F. Ba,J. Zhang,C. Zhong*,Programming cells for dynamic assembly of inorganic nano-objects with spatiotemporal control. Advanced Materials 2018, 30, 1705968. (Inside back cover & video abstract highlight)

  6. C. Zhang#Y. Li#, H. WangS. HeY. XuC. Zhong* and  T. Li*, Adhesive bacterial amyloid nanofiber-mediated growth of metal–organic frameworks on diverse polymeric substrates. Chemical Science 2018, 9, 5672–5678. 

  7. Y. Wang#, J. Hua#, B. An#, T. K. Lu*, C. Zhong*, Emerging Paradigms for Synthetic Design of Functional Amyloids, Journal of Molecular Biology 2018 in press, (Invited review in theme issue “functional amyloids”).

  8. L. Jiang, X. Song, Y. Li, Q. Xu, J. Pu, H. Huang*, and C. Zhong*, Programming integrative extracellular and intracellular biocatalysis for rapid, robust, and recyclable synthesis of trehalose. ACS Catalysis 2018, 8, 1837−1842.

  9. B. An#, X. Wang#,M. Cui#, X. GuiX. MaoY. LiuK. LiC. ChuJ. PuS. RenY. WangG. ZhongT. K. LuC. Liu, and C. Zhong*, Diverse supramolecular nanofiber networks assembled by functional low-complexity domains.ACS Nano 2017, 11 (7), 6985–6995.

  10. M. Cui#, S. Ren#, S. Wei#, C. Sun, C. Zhong*, Natural and bio-inspired underwater adhesives: current progress and new perspectives. APL Materials 2017, 5, 116102. (Invited review). 

  11. X. Y. Wang #, Y. F. Li #, C. Zhong*, Amyloid-directed assembly of nanostructures and functional devices for bionanoelectronics. Journal of Materials Chemistry B. 2015, 3, 4953-4958. (Invited review). 

  12. Before Joining ShanghaiTech

  13. C. Zhong, T. K. Lu et al, Strong underwater adhesives made by self-assembling multi-protein nanofibres. Nature Nanotechnology 2014, 10, 858-866. (Highlighted in MIT News, the Scientist, Science Daily, Materials Today, MRS website and others)    

  14. C. Zhong, Y. X. Deng, A. Kapetanovic, M. Rolandi, A polysaccharide bioprotonic field-effect transistor. Nature Communications 2011, 2, 476. (Highlighted by MIT Tech Review, IEEE Spectrum, MRS website and others). 

  15. C. Zhong, A.Kapetanovic, Y. X. Deng, M. Rolandi, A chitin nanofiber ink for airbrushing, replica molding and microcontact printing of self-assembled marco-, micro- and nanostructures. Advanced Materials 2011, 23, 4776-4781. (Inside cover feature).

  16. C. Zhong, C.C.Chu, Biomimetic mineralization of acid polysaccharide-based hydrogels: Towards porous 3-dimensional bone-like biocomposites. Journal of Materials Chemistry 2012, 22, 6080-6087. (Highlighted in Biomimetic Materials Collection on RSC Biomaterials Science Blog).

  17. C. Zhong, C. C. Chu et al., Synthesis, characterization and cytotoxicity of photo-crosslinked maleic chitosan-PEGDA hybrid hydrogels. Acta Biomaterialia, 2010, 6, 3908-3918.

  18. C. Zhong, A. Cooper, A. Kapetanovic, M. Zhang, M. Rolandi, A facile bottom-up route to self-assembled biogenic chitin nanofibers. Soft Matter 2010, 6, 5298-5301. 

  19. C. Zhong, C. C. Chu, On the origin of amorphous cores in biomimetic calcium carbonate spherulites: new insights into spherulitic crystallization. Crystal Growth and Design 2010, 10, 5043-5049.

  20. C. Zhong, C. C. Chu, Acid polysaccharide-induced amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) films: colloidal nanoparticle self-organization process. Langmuir 2009, 25, 3045–3049.

  21. A. Y. Chen #, C. Zhong #, T. K. Lu, Engineering living functional materials. ACS Synthetic Biology 2015, 4, 8-11 (Invited Perspective paper).

Group Photos

Group Members

黄娇芳 助理研究员

Living Functional Materials
Microbial Metabolism and Regulation


黄园园 博士后

Engineering light-powered smart living underwater glues via synthetic biology strategies


安柏霖 博士

Living cellular glues Self-assemble Supramolecular Nanostructures



崔孟奎 博士

Bio-inspired Underwater Adhesives
Intermolecular Interaction



李柯 博士

Synthetic Biology Functional Biofilms 



李颖风 博士

Microfabrication Bionanotechnology
Synthetic Biology



刘苏莹 博士

Living Functional Materials
Microbial Metabolism and Regulation


邮箱:liusy @shanghaitech.edu.cn

濮嘉华 博士

Artificial photosynthesis



王新宇 博士

Bio-inorganic Interface



王艳怡 博士

Self-assembling Supramolecular Nanostructures



魏世操 博士

Functional Biofilms



蒋晓宇 硕士

Underwater adhesive



张继聪 硕士

Artificial photosynthesis--CO2 reduction



刘奕 硕士

Implantable biomedical materials based on ionic conduction



张思雨 硕士

Stay Tuned ! :)



巴方 推免生

Artificial photosynthesis



谢余 本科生

Functional Protein & Supermolecular Structure



寻东民 本科生

light-switchable platform based on self-assembling amyloid protein



辛美玲 技术员






Job Openings
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