Dr. Gao’s research program lies at the interface of chemical biology and biomolecular engineering with primary focus on small- and macro-molecule discovery and their applications to human health, agriculture, and energy. Natural products from microorganisms of diverse origins have played an extremely important role historically in drug discovery. Recent advances in human microbiome research have expanded our understanding of interactions between microbes and hosts related to human health. This unique microbial community also provides a golden opportunity for the discovery of new therapeutics. One of her main research is microbiome-based natural product discovery and engineering, and moreover, to develop enzymes involved in the natural product biosynthesis as powerful biocatalysts for difficult chemical reactions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The recently discovered microbial ribonucleoprotein, CRISPR/Cas9, in complex with a single guide RNA, has been extensively applied to mediate genome—editing both in vitro and in vivo. Human genetic diseases were previously recognized to be untreatable until recent advances in genome-editing research, which have been revolutionizing medicine for treating human genetic diseases. Another main research interest of her group is to discover and develop advanced genome-editing agents and delivery systems and apply these genome-editing tools as next-generation therapeutics to clinical treatment of human genetic diseases.
Dr. Xue (Sherry) Gao joined Rice University in 2017, as the Ted N. Law Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Dr. Gao obtained her doctoral degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles in 2013, under the guidance of Professor Yi Tang. She was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, working in the laboratory of Professor David R. Liu. She received both of her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering at Tianjin University in China with the guidance of Prof. Yingjin Yuan.