People / Faculty

Weifeng Xu Ph.D.

Feng Zhang, Ph.D.
W.M. Keck Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Building: 46-3160
Lab: Zhang Lab
Email: zhang_f@MIT.EDU


Feng Zhang joined the McGovern Institute and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences as an Assistant Professor in January 2011 with an interest in studying the role of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the development of neurological disease, specifically focusing on illnesses of the nervous system.

As a graduate student at Stanford University, Feng worked with adviser Karl Deisseroth to invent a set of technologies for dissecting the functional organization of brain circuits. The researchers used light-sensitive proteins from green algae and other microbes to develop a new “optogenetic” toolbox for controlling the activity of neurons in live organisms with light.

Feng served as a Junior Fellow at Harvard’s Society of Fellows and completed his postdoctoral research in the laboratories of Broad senior associate member George Church at Harvard Medical School and Paola Arlotta at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he used synthetic biology to study the patterns of gene activity during brain development, a topic with implications for neurological and psychiatric problems.

At the Broad, Feng takes a synthetic biology approach to understand the development of neuropsychiatric disease. His laboratory is developing novel genome engineering technologies aimed at perturbing and modifying the genome to see if observed variants mimic defects in animal models, and discover whether those are necessary and sufficient for disease.

Feng received his A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College in 2004 and his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Bioengineering in 2009 from Stanford University.
In addition to his position at the McGovern Institute and BCS, Feng is a core member at the Broad Institute.

Zhang F, Cong L, Lodato S, Kosuri S, Church GM, Arlotta P. Efficient construction of sequence-specific TAL effectors for modulating mammalian transcription. Nat Biotechnol. 2011 Feb;29(2):149-153.

Gradinaru V*, Zhang F*, Ramakrishnan C, Mattis J, Prakash R, Diester I, Goshen I, Thompson KR, Deisseroth K. Molecular and cellular approaches to diversifying and extending optogenetics. Cell 2010 Apr 2;141(1):154-65.

Tsai HC*, Zhang F*, Adamantidis AR, Stuber GD, Bonci A, de Lecea L, Deisseroth K. Phasic firing in dopaminergic neurons is sufficient for behavioral conditioning in the absence of reward. Science 2009 4/23.

Zhang F, Wang LP, Brauner M, Liewald JF, Kay K, Watzke N, Wood PG, Bamberg E, Nagel G, Gottschalk A, Deisseroth K. Multimodal fast optical interrogation of neural circuitry. Nature. 2007 Apr 5;446:633-9.