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Qiong Zhou, MS: Accelerating Research at the Forefront of Drug Discovery

This researcher optimizes cutting edge technology to accelerate medication innovation

minute read

Written by Kristen O'Neill on March 10, 2023
What You Need To Know

This scientist and researcher harnesses the power of a proprietary drug screening system to accelerate testing of new drugs and therapies, bringing promising new treatments to clinicians and patients faster.

Researcher and scientist Qiong Zhou, MS, finds herself, quite literally, at the center of drug discovery and innovation.

As the senior professional research assistant at the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhou works closely with CDD director Daniel LaBarbera to harness the power of a proprietary robotic system to accelerate screenings of new drugs and novel therapeutics.

Together with LaBarbera, Zhou and the CDD team can customize screenings of tens of thousands of drugs at one time using 384-well or 1536-well formats, to determine which, for example, could serve as an effective anticancer treatment for a specific type of cancer, or for an individual patient’s unique kind of tumor. (A typical lab usually runs experiments in a 96-well format.) Zhou collaborates with Hector Esquer, PhD, to design programs that optimize the robotic system’s performance of diverse range of screenings across a multitude of drug compounds and therapies.

We visited Zhou at the CDD to find out what motivates her in the lab and beyond.

What drives you?

The thought that what I do could potentially improve people’s health or even save people’s lives. Also, as a mother of an 11-year-old boy, I want to be a good role model for my kid to show him that education matters, strong work ethics matter, and we should try our best to be the best person in all aspects of life.

How does being part of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus ecosystem help you further your work and your professional goals? 

I got the wonderful opportunity to work under Dr. LaBarbera’s guidance in the Center for Drug Discovery. I get to learn new skills and work with brilliant people all the time. There is always room to learn and improve. I am hoping in the near future, my hard work and the broad range of skills that I’ve developed over the years will allow me to be qualified for a leadership position. 

When I’m not at work, I enjoy…

When I am not at work, I enjoy all the activities I do with my family. I have a hard-working boy who thrives in competitive swimming, competition math and classical piano. Over time I developed a deep passion for classical piano music.

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Topics: Faculty, Pharmacy,