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Mechanics of Biomolecular Assemblies

  – where Chemistry meets Physics and Biology!



The Shi lab combines biophysical, chemical, and optogenetic tools to study the properties of biomolecular assemblies such as protein condensates and cell membranes. We aim to understand the material and mechanical properties of biomolecular assemblies. Our research will shed light on the physical chemistry mechanisms that underlie cell biological phenomena.

We are currently looking for motivated students and postdocs: 1) to study the material properties biomolecular condensates that are relevant to neurodegeneration; 2) to investigate how local mechanical and geometrical cues on the cell membrane affect the activation and sorting of membrane proteins; 3) to understand how interactions with cytoskeleton affect the dynamics of cell membranes.

Postdoc candidates (preferably with a background in electrophysiology or neuroscience) please email your CV to Zheng (


Shilong and Zheng presented our recent study on the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1

Shilong presented his recent study on how membrane curvature affects the cellular distribution of Piezo1 at the Penn Muscle Institute Annual Symposium (see below)…and the poster was popular 🙂 Last month, Zheng visited and talked at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (along with Weil Cornell Medicine), lots of … Read More

Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA)

The Shi lab is grateful to receive the MIRA from NIH (NIGMS). This award will support our long term goal to understand the material properties and membrane interactions of biomolecular condensates!

New funding to develop “Tools and Technologies to Explore Nervous System Biomolecular Condensates”

The Shi lab received NIH (NIDA, NIMH, NINDS) funding to support our exploration of neuronal protein condensates in live cells via micropipette-based quantifications!

Tension along an axon

Our study on the membrane of neuronal axons is now published on Science Advances! We found that membrane tension propagates at a surprisingly fast speed (20 microns/s!) along the axons of rat neurons, allowing mechanical coordination between the growth and branching of axons.

Welcome Bineet!

Welcome to Bineet, joining us as a post-doctoral associate! Bineet is an expert in lipids and peptides and will explore the material properties of protein condensates and cells. Before joining our lab, Bineet has spent time in Michigan, Japan, India, and China!    

Zheng presented at membrane conference

Zheng presented Shilong’s Piezo1 study at the Molecular Biophysics of Membranes conference. Lots of cool science and (old/new) friends!

Lab at MARM2022

Steven presented his undergraduate honors thesis study on how cellular cytoskeleton affects the diffusion of various membrane proteins. Shilong presented his understanding of the relation between membrane curvature and Piezo1 distribution in cells. Huan presented her recent exploration of synapsin condensates. Zheng organized and presented at the membrane biophysics symposium. We also had a great … Read More

Welcome Holly, Jack, and Boxuan!

Welcome to Holly Cheng, Jack Nothnagel, and Boxuan Li, our newest group members! Holly is a sophomore in molecular biology from the Brangwynne lab at Princeton; Jack is a freshman in chemistry from Cornell. Both Holly and Jack will be spending the summer with us to explore different aspects of biomolecular condensates. Boxuan was a … Read More

Targeting drugs to the nucleus

Shilong worked together with a team led by Rohin from Janson Zhang’s lab to test the idea of using C60-cycolodextrin as drug delivery systems. Unexpectedly, one of the systems was able to efficiently target drug (doxorubicin) molecules to the nucleus of (HeLa) cells! Read the full story on Nanoscale, great team work!  

Reid Award and Zhou Family Fellowship

Congratulations to Huan for winning the Reid Award, which recognizes Rutgers Chemistry students with the highest honors for exceptional performance in research! Huan was also selected to receive the Zhou family fellowship through a generous gift by alumni, Drs. Quan Zhou and Xiaohua Zhang!! Good job, Huan!! Check out more information about the Reid Award … Read More

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We are grateful for funding supports from: