Zihe Rao - Biography#

Zihe Rao was born in Jiangsu Province, China, September 1950. He began his academic career after graduating from the University of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1977. As a junior researcher, he was involved in determining and analyzing the crystal structure of insulin and analogs in the Peking Insulin Structure Group under the guidance of Professor Dong-Cai Liang, the pioneer of structural biology in China. In 1985, Rao commenced his Ph.D. studies in protein crystallography with Professor Neil Isaacs at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne.

In 1996, with strong support from the Chinese Ministry of Education, Professor Rao returned to China to establish a structural biology group at Tsinghua University, where his research focus was (and remains today) on understanding the molecular basis for the pathogenicity of infectious agents.

Demonstrating leadership in the field of structural biology and biophysics in China, Professor Rao organized and coordinated the first National Research Grant in structural biology which greatly enhanced the discipline throughout China. Since then, he has also initiated programs of global significance to support life science research in China. These include the “National Protein Research Plan”, the “National Facility for Protein Research”, and the “National Research Plan for Protein Machine and Life Process”. These programs have been a driving force in attracting a large number of Chinese scientists to return to China to participate in life science research.

Professor Rao was the Director-General of the Institute of Biophysics (IBP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, from 2003 to 2007. Under his leadership, the IBP became one of the most respected institutes in life sciences in the world. Professor Rao served as President of Nankai University (2006 – 2011), a university ranked in the top 10 in China. In 2009, he was identified as one of the top 60 educators in the last 60 years in China. From 2006 to 2017, Professor Rao served as the Chairman of the Biophysics Society of China. From 2014 to 2017, he served as the President of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB). He is the founding President of the China Union of Life Science Societies, which brings together 22 life science societies across China. The Union has an ambitious mission to perform a leading role in promoting scientific research and worldwide collaborations. Professor Rao is also passionate about his charitable activities in promoting education and science, especially the Red Cross. In 2014, he became Chairman of the “Academician's Humanity Foundation”, a program under the Red Cross in China that supports medical education and the treatment of neglected diseases in China. He is also the Chairman of the C.C. Tan Life Sciences Award Committee (2009 - date), the Chen Jiagen Life Sciences Award Committee (2016 – date). He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Protein & Cell (2010 – date) which has an Impact Factor of 10.16 in 2019.

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