Chuan HE

John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Chemistry

The University of Chicago

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  Chuan He is the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago. After being trained as a Damon-Runyon postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University from 2000-2002, he joined the University of Chicago as an assistant professor, and was promoted to John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in 2014.

  He is an expert in the field of RNA modification biology and cancer epigenetics. He is also a member of the Cancer Research Center at the University of Chicago. He was the first to champion the idea that modifications to RNA are reversible and can control gene expression. His work is foundational to developing potential therapies that target RNA methylation effectors against human diseases such as cancer.

  He's research team was the first to identify eraser proteins, which can undo changes made to RNA molecules, which sparked the emergence of epitranscriptome research. His team explained how RNA methylation functions through characterizing reader proteins—processes that are known to play critical roles in many types of cancer, including endometrial cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia, and glioblastoma.

  He previously served as director of UChicago’s Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, as well as currently serving as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His many honors include a Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research Award. He has authored or co-authored nearly 300 publications.

  He received his BS (1994) from the University of Science and Technology of China. He received his PhD degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in chemistry in 2000.