Prof. Yufen Zhao Ph.D


Prof. Dr. Zhao holds a B.Sc. from Taiwan Tsinghua University (1971), and a Ph.D. from SUNY, USA (1975). She is a professor of organic chemistry in Tsinghua University since 1988, and was elected as the academician of the Chinese Academy of Science in 1991, she is also a professor of chemistry in Xiamen University since 2000. Now She is a member of the Board of International Conference on Phosphorus Chemistry, and a member of the Board of International Society of Study on Origin of Life. Her research fields are chemical biology, organo-phosphorus chemistry, origin of life, and medicinal chemistry.



1971 B.S., National Tsinghua University in Taiwan

1975 Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook,Advisor: Prof. Fausto Ramirez.

1975-1979 Postdoctoral Associate,State University of New York at Stony Brook and New York University,

1979-1988 Associate Professor, Professor, Institute of Chemistry Academia Sinica, Beijing

1988- Present Professor, Department of Chemistry, TsinghuaUniversity, Beijing

1993- present Director, Bioorganic Phosphorus Chemistry Laboratrory.

1994-present Vice-Dean, School of Life Science & Engineering, TsinghuaUniversity, Beijing

1991 was elected as the youngest Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, councilor of the Chinese Chemical Society, Full Member of the Academy of Creative Endeavors of Russia


Research Field:

Organic Phosphorus Chemistry , Bioorganic Chemistry, Origin of Life, Medicinal Chemistry.



1. Medicine chemistry

Invented a new method to synthesize the skeleton of the Celphalatoxine,which is an anti-cancer reagent. Developed a new type of non-toxic compounds, which are highly effective for curing theschistosomiasis.

2. RNA and DNA cleavage reagents

Discovered that the N-phospho-histidine could cleave RNA and DNA by hydrolysis on the phospho-diester bond, Also found that N-phospho-serine in histidine could cleave DNA and RNA by a bio-mimic mechanism Cooperated with OhioUniversity for site specific cleavage of RNA and DNA.

3. Auto-catalysis of the N-phospho-amino acids:

It was found that N-phospho-amino acids could not only self-assemble into oligo-peptides in organic and aqueous condition from pH 2 to 9, at the temperature 0-80oC, but also phosphorylate the nucleosides into nucleotides and oligo-nucleotides. Therefore, N-phospho-amino acids could produce the peptide library,nucleotide library and the peptide-nucleotide conjugated library in one pot reaction.

4. Origin of Life

N-phospho-amino acids also could form the LB-membrane and lipsome structure, together with auto-catalysis for peptide and nucleotides formation, it was proposed as the minimum evolved system.


Selected Publications:

1. Gao YX, Wang G, Chen L, Xu PX, Zhao YF, Zhou YBo, and Han LB, Copper-Catalyzed Aerobic Oxidative Coupling of Terminal Alkynes with H-Phosphonates Leading to Alkynylphosphonates, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009, 131, 7958-7957.

2. Wang G, Shen RW, Xu Q, Goto Midori, Zhao YF and Han LB, Stereospecific Coupling of H-Phosphinates and Secondary Phosphine Oxides with Amines and Alcohols: A General Method for the Preparation of Optically Active Organophosphorus Acid Derivatives, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2010, 75, 3890-3892.

3. Liu XX, Zhang JX, Ni F, Dong X, Han BC, Han DX, Ji ZL, Zhao YF, Genome wide exploration of the origin and evolution of amino acids, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2010, 10:77.

4. Ni F, Sun ST, Huang C and Zhao YF, N-phosphorylation of amino acids by trimetaphosphate in aqueous solution - learning from prebiotic synthesis, Green Chemistry, 2009, 11, 569 - 573.

5. Xu PX, Hu AF, Hu D, Gao X, Zhao YF, Negative ion electrospray ionization mass spectrometry of nucleoside phosphoramidate monoesters: elucidation of novel rearrangement mechanisms by multistage mass spectrometry incorporating in-source deuterium labeling, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 2008, 2(19), 2977-2983.


Selected Patents:

1. Zhao YF, Tang G, Zhou N, Hu LM, Chen Y, "Synthesis Method of Alanylglutamine", US 7163917B2, 2007.

2. Zhao YF, Tang G, Zhou N, Hu LM, Chen Y,"Synthetis Method for N(2)-L-Alanyl-L-glutamine", ZL 200510054083.3, 2005.