Associate Professor
Packard Lab
19 Memorial Dr. West
Bethlehem, PA 18015

Phone Number: 
(610) 758-2939
Xiaohui (Frank) Zhang

Areas of Research



Xiaohui "Frank" Zhang leads leads an interdisciplinary Lehigh research team that integrates physics, immunology and biology toward the development of a nanodevice that could provide a new treatment to a host of human disease. His team specializes in mechanosensing -- how cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli. Their efforts focus on the biomechanical mechanisms of protein folding, conformational change and protein-protein interactions. Zhang’s group is also active in the development and application of single-molecule force spectroscopic approaches to study cell adhesion and migration.

In the lab, Zhang uses single molecule force spectroscopy to monitor, manipulate and measure mechanical forces. With optical tweezers, he exerts minute forces onto samples and records the dynamics of protein conformation and mechanical response in real time. The team studies integrin, a protein molecule that serves as a mechanical sensor to transmit signals across the cell membrane. The team is also designing a polymer that mimics a blood-clotting molecule called the von Willebrand Factor (vWF), which binds with platelets during rapid blood flow. The ultimate goal of the team's work is to develop a mechanically switchable nanodevice for targeted drug therapy for ailments such as stroke, thrombosis and atherosclerosis.

Prior to joining the Lehigh faculty, he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biophysics at Harvard Medical School and as Principal Investigator at the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His work has been published in journals such as Science, Nature, and PNAS, and he has presented at conferences around the world. He is a member of the American Heart Association, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Biophysical Society, the American Physiological Society, the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, and Sigma Xi.


Ph.D., Physiology and Biophysics, University of Miami School of Medicine
M.S., Biophysics, The University of Hong Kong
B.Sc., Physics (Minor in Biology), Sun Yat-sen University