Professor Yi Lu – Designing Artificial Metalloenzymes for Sustainable Energy Catalysis


Metalloenzymes catalyze some the most difficult and important reactions in biology, including those in energy conversions from sustainable sources such as O2 and water, as well as reduction of CO2 to other organic carbons. Designing artificial metalloenzymes (ArMs) with similar structure and activity as native enzymes is an valuable test of our knowledge of these proteins and can result in new biocatalysts for practical applications.

In this presentation, Dr Lu provides recent examples from his group to demonstrate that, while reproducing the primary coordination sphere may be good enough to make structural models of metalloenzymes, careful design of the non-covalent secondary coordination sphere interactions is required to create functional metalloenzymes with high activity toward oxygen reduction reaction, sulfite reduction and CO2 conversion. He also shows that they are able to fine-tune the activity of ArMs, so that they surpass that of native enzymes.


Dr. Yi Lu received his B.S. degree from Peking University in 1986, and Ph.D. degree from University of California at Los Angeles in 1992. After two years of postdoctoral research in Professor Harry B. Gray group at the Caltech, Dr. Lu started his own independent career at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1994 as a tenure-tracked assistant professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2000, full professor in 2004 and Jay and Ann Schenck Endowed Professor in 2010. In August of 2021, Dr. Lu moved to the University of Texas at Austin, becoming Robert J.V. Johnson-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry.