Zheng Ruan, Ph.D.

Zheng Ruan, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, Du Laboratory


Dr. Zheng Ruan earned his B.S. in biotechnology from Huazhong Agricultural University and his Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the University of Georgia. His graduate work focused on protein kinase evolution and how disease mutations have altered the structure, function and dynamics of kinases. Along with his research at the University of Georgia, he developed the codonalign module in Biopython through Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project in 2013. In 2018, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Juan Du at Van Andel Institute as a postdoctoral fellow.


Current research focus

Dr. Ruan studies ion channel structure and function through single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and patch-clamp electrophysiology analysis.

Education & Training

Ph.D. in bioinformatics, University of Georgia (Advisor: Dr. Natarajan Kannan)
Thesis: Functional annotation of oncogenic mutations of epidermal growth factor receptor kinase (EGFR)

B.S. in biotechnology, Huazhong Agricultural University (China)
Thesis: Prediction and analysis of pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) protein family in maize

Awards & External Funding

Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grants for Doctoral Students (IIRG) , University of Georgia Graduate School (2017)

Grimes Family Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Natural Sciences, Franklin College Grimes Award Committee, University of Georgia (2015)

“Monsanto” Scholarship, Monsanto Company and Huazhong Agricultural University, first prize for (2010 and 2011)

Second prize of Contemporary Undergraduate Mathematical Contest in Modeling (team leader), China Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2010)

First prize of Mathematical Contest in Modeling at Huazhong area (team leader), Wuhan Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2010)

National Scholarship, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (2009)


To view a list of selected publications click below.

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Ruan Z*, Haley E*, Orozco I*, Sabat M, Myers R, Roth R, Du J#, Lü W#. 2021. Structures of the TRPM5 channel elucidate mechanisms of activation and inhibition. Nat Struct Mol Biol.

Ruan Z*, Osei-Owusu J*, Du J, Qiu Z#, Lü W#. 2020. Structures and pH-sensing mechanism of the proton-activated chloride channel. Nature.

Ruan Z, Orozco IJ, Du J#, Lü W#. 2020. Structures of human Pannexin 1 reveal ion pathways and mechanism of gating. Nature.

Kwon A, John M, Ruan Z, Kannan N. 2018. Coupled regulation by the juxtamembrane and sterile α motif (SAM) linker is a hallmark of ephrin tyrosine kinase evolution. J Biol Chem 293(14):5102–5116. 

Zheng R, Kannan N. 2018. Altered conformational landscape and dimerization dependency underpins the activation of EGFR by αC–β4 loop insertion mutations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 115 (35):E8162–E8171.

Huang LC, Ross KE, Baf TR, Drabkin H, Kochut KJ, Ruan Z, D’Eustachio P, McSkimming D, Arighi C, Chen C, Natale DA, Smith C, Gaudet P, Newton AC, Wu C, Kannan N. 2018. Integrative annotation and knowledge discovery of kinase post-translational modifcations and cancer-associated mutations through federated protein ontologies and resources. Sci Rep 8:6518.

Fulton M, Hanold L, Ruan Z, Patel S, Beedle A, Kannan N, Kennedy EJ. 2018. Conformationally constrained peptides target the allosteric kinase dimer interface and inhibit EGFR activation. Bioorg Med Chem 26(6):1167–1173.

Jiang YY, Maier W, Baumeister R, Minevich G, Joachimiak E, Ruan Z, Kannan N, Clarke D, Frankel J, Gaertig J. 2017. The Hippo pathway maintains the equatorial division plane in the Ciliate Tetrahymena. Genetics 206(2):873–888.

Ruan Z, Katiyar S, Kannan N. 2017. Computational and experimental characterization of patient derived mutations reveal an unusual mode of regulatory spine assembly and drug sensitivity in EGFR kinase. Biochemistry 56(1):22–32.

Hardman G, Perkins S, Ruan Z, Kannan N, Brownridge P, Byrne DP, Eyers PA, Jones AR, Eyers CE. 2017. Extensive non-canonical phosphorylation in human cells revealed using strong-anion exchange-mediated phosphoproteomics. BioRxiv.

Stefely JA, Licitra F, Laredj L, Reidenbach AG, Kemmerer ZA, Grangeray A, Jaeg-Ehret T, Minogue CE, Ulbrich A, Hutchins PD, Wilkerson EM, Ruan Z, Aydin D, Hebert AS, Guo X, Freiberger EC, Reutenauer L, Jochem A, Chergova M, Johnson IE, Lohman DC, Rush MJP, Kwiecien NW, Singh PK, Schlagowski AI, Floyd BJ, Forsman U, Sindelar PJ, Westphall WS, Pierrel F, Zoll J, Dal Peraro M, Kannan N, Bingman CA, Coon JJ, Isope P, Puccio H, Pagliarini DJ. 2016. Cerebellar ataxia and coenzyme Q deficiency through loss of unorthodox kinase activity. Mol Cell 63(4):608–620.

Mohanty S, Oruganty K, Kwon A, Byrne DP, Ferries S, Ruan Z, Hanold LE, Katiyar S, Kennedy EJ, Eyers PA, Kannan N. 2016. Hydrophobic core variations provide a structural framework for tyrosine kinase evolution and functional specialization. PLoS Genet 12(2):e1005885.

Nguyen T, Ruan Z, Oruganty K, Kannan N. 2015. Co-Conserved MAPK features couple D-domain docking groove to distal allosteric sites via the C-terminal flanking tail. PLoS One 10(3):e0119636.

Ruan Z, Kannan N. 2015. Mechanistic insights into R776H mediated activation of epidermal growth factor receptor kinase. Biochemistry 54(27):4216–4225.

Shaw TI, Ruan Z, Glenn TC, Liu L. 2013. STRAW: Species TRee Analysis Web server. Nucleic Acids Res 41:W238-W241.