Dr. Yan Jessie Zhang

Associate Professor

The Scripps Research Institute, 2004

Structural and biophysical studies of enzymes in transcriptional pathways

Structure-based drug design


Dr. Yan Jessie Zhang graduated from The Scripps Research Institute with her Ph.D. in 2004. Her thesis research mentored by Dr. Ian A. Wilson focused on the structure-based drug design targeting an enzyme involved in de novo purine synthesis. One of the drugs from this research is now in pre-clinic trial for solid tumor. Before that, she obtained her B.S in Tsinghua University in China in the area of medicinal chemistry and later came to U.S., obtaining crystallographic training from Dr. Brian W. Matthews of University of Oregon where she received her masters degree. Upon finishing her graduate study, Jessie went to her postdoc in Dr. Joseph P. Noel lab in Salk Institute, to study the structure-function relationship of enzymes in transcription and oncogenic pathways.

Dr. Zhang joined the faculty of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2008. A major focus of Jessie's research is the elucidation of the fundamental principles of transcriptional regulation and their impact in neuronal stem cell differentiation. She focuses on the phosphatase families that target the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II. The primary experimental approaches used in the laboratory are macromolecular structure determination and allied biophysical techniques. In her free time, Jessie enjoys time being the mother of two daughters and tries to excel in oriental cuisine and ancient Chinese history and literature. In her spare time, she and the girls in the lab also design jewelry with a scientific theme.

Lab Members

image Seema Irani

Post Doc

image Nathaniel Burkholder

Graduate Student

Brenda Medellin

Graduate Student

Wanjie Yang

Graduate Student

Mukesh Kumar

Graduate Student

Lab Manager

Wendy Matthews


Daniel Arce

Swanand Rakhade

Meena Tadros

Haoyi Wu


Yong Zhang is on faculty in Shanghai

Chrissie is at Harvard Med for her postdoc

Wenzong Li is at Amyris in the Bay Area

S.D. Yogesha is at Krystal Biotech

Wupeng Yan is at Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

Nick Prescott is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Rockefeller University

Josh Mayfield is at UCSD for his postdoc

Karan Kathuria is at Stanford Medical School

Kelly Sim is in Irving at Reata Pharmaceuticals