Z. Hong Zhou

Born: March 2, 1965CN

Z. Hong Zhou was born in China the year before the Cultural Revolution. At the end of the Cultural Revolution, China committed itself to science and Zhou's father spent a month's salary on a set of science books for Zhou to encourage his education. When he was fourteen, Zhou went to high school at a boarding school away from his village, not returning to his home for over a year. With an interest in high-energy physics, he attended University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. He received a master's under Lienchao Tsien, conducting research using cyclotron radiation imaging, then attended graduate school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is now at University of Texas Medical Center, studying viruses using structural and computational biology.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0623
No. of pages: 93
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Robin Mejia
16-18 May 2006
University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas

Abstract of Interview

Z. Hong Zhou was born in Hunan Province in China the year before the Cultural Revolution, the eldest of three siblings. His father was a factory worker who was home only one day a week; his mother a housewife who cared for her children. Though in school, Zhou felt as if he had little to no education prior to middle school, since the first few years of the Revolution were spent trying to organize an educational system (Zhou's first-grade teacher held class in an abandoned building found in the area). At the end of the Cultural Revolution, though, China committed itself to science and Zhou's father, in response, spent a month's salary on buying a set of science books for Zhou to encourage his education. At the age of fourteen Zhou went off to high school at a boarding school a distance away from his village, not returning to see his home for over a year. Zhou did well on his college entrance exams and, with an intense interest in high-energy physics, he applied to and was accepted at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. Ultimately he received a master's degree under Lienchao Tsien conducting research using cyclotron radiation imaging, also intending to pursue a doctoral degree abroad. He started his graduate education at New York University but then moved on to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, working in Wah Chiu's laboratory—his doctoral thesis focused on imaging the herpes virus. After meeting L. Ridgway Scott, Zhong decided to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship as a National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health-sponsored trainee in the Departments of Mathematics and of Computer Sciences at the University of Houston under Scott developing computational biology methods. From there he accepted a position at the University of Texas Medical Center studying viruses using structural and computational biology. At the end of the interview Zhong talks about balancing his family life and his career; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work; his lab management style; and the practical applications of his research. He also discusses his collaboration with industry; his future research developing the technology of imaging while studying viral cell interactions; and the process of conducting scientific research before speaking more about the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in his research.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1986 University of Science and Technology of China BS Physics
1989 University of Science and Technology of China MS Physics
1995 Baylor College of Medicine PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

University of Houston

1995 to 1997
NLM/NIH sponsored postdoctoral trainee in high performance computing, Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Sciences

University of Texas Health Science Center

1997 to 2001
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
1997
Faculty Member, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Virology and Gene Therapy, and Molecular Pathology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
1999 to 2001
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Informatics, School of Health Information Sciences
2001
Adjunct Associate, Department of Health Informatics, School of Health Information Sciences
2001
Associate Professor (with tenure Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

W. M. Keck Center for Computational Biology

1998
Faculty member

Houston-Area Molecular Biophysics Program

1998
Faculty member

Baylor College of Medicine

2000
Adjunct Associate Professor, Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics Program

Honors

Year(s) Award
1991 to 1995

Numerous oral and poster presentation awards as trainees

1992 to 1995

W. M. Keck pre-doctoral fellow in computational biology

1995

Best PhD Dissertation Award, Rice University/University of Texas
Medical Center Sigma Xi Society

1995 to 1997

NLM/NIH-sponsored postdoctoral trainee

1999 to 2003

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

2000

Basil O'Connor Scholar Award of the March of Dimes Foundation

2002

Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Institute

2004

Burton Award from the American Microscopy Society

Table of Contents

Growing Up in China and College
1

Family background. Early education. Siblings. Attends high school in HunanProvince, China. Childhood experiences. Influential teachers. Interest inphysics. College entrance examinations in China. High school physics teacher. Parental expectations. Reasons for choosing the University of Science and Technology of China. Majors in physics. Education in China after the Cultural Revolution. Extracurricular activities. College experiences. Decides to attend graduate school abroad. Getting passport. Earns a master's degree in physics at University of Science and Technology of China.

Master's Research, Graduate School Abroad, and Postdoctoral Work
30

Master's research under Lienchao Tsien using cyclotron radiation imaging. Applying to United States graduate schools from China. College job. Attends New York University. Marries. First experiences in New York. Move to Wah Chiu's laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Doctoral thesis under Chiu imaging the herpes virus. Meets and works as a postdoctoral fellowfor L. Ridgway Scott developing computational biology methods. Scott's mentoring style. Personal goals. Reasons for choosing electron microscopy and structural biology. Future research direction. Wife's career. Balancing family and career. Accepts position at University of Texas Medical Center. Setting up lab. Children.

The University of Texas Health Science Center and Final Thoughts
58

More on setting up laboratory. Current research studying viruses using structural and computational biology. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Wah Chiu's mentoring style. Grant-writing process. Writing journal articles. Role in the lab. Typical workday. Lab management style. Administrative duties. Practical applications of research. Collaboration with industry. Futureresearch developing the technology of imaging while studying viral cellinteractions. Duties to professional community. Professional goal. More on Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

Index
91

About the Interviewer

Robin Mejia