Dr. Mei Hong

Professor of Chemistry

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
170 Albany Street
Cambridge, MA, 02139

My research focuses on the development and application of multidimensional and multinuclear solid-state NMR techniques to elucidate the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins and other biological macromolecules. In the area of membrane proteins, we are particularly interested in the biophysical chemistry and mechanisms of action of ion channels and curvature-inducing membrane proteins such as viral fusion proteins and antimicrobial peptides. Our research has elucidated the proton-conduction mechanism and drug-inhibition mechanism of influenza M2 proteins, the oligomeric structure and membrane-disruptive mechanism of β-hairpin antimicrobial peptides, and the conformation and dynamics of channel-forming colicin Ia for its spontaneous insertion into the lipid membrane. We also investigate the structure and dynamics of complex polysaccharides such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins in plant cell walls and amyloid fibrils involved in neurodegenerative diseases.


To answer these biophysical questions, we develop a wide range of solid-state NMR techniques such as novel isotopic labeling strategies, multidimensional correlation techniques, polarization transfer pulse sequences, and computational methods. These new techniques allow efficient assignment of protein NMR spectra, increase the distance range of NMR from angstroms to nanometers, probe the insertion depth of membrane proteins, measure protein orientation in phospholipid bilayers, and detect intermolecular binding such as protein-drug, protein-cholesterol and protein-polysaccharide binding. These methods have allowed us to obtain detailed mechanistic insights about proteins and carbohydrates that cannot be obtained from any other high-resolution structural techniques.


1992 – 1996      Ph.D. Chemistry, University of California Berkeley
1990 – 1992      B. A. Chemistry, summa cum laude, Mount Holyoke College


2014 –               Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2007 – 2010     John D. Corbett Professor, Iowa State University (ISU)
2004 – 2014    Professor of Chemistry, ISU
2002 – 2004    Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, ISU
1999 – 2002    Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, ISU
1997 – 1999     Research Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
1996 – 1997     Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry, MIT


2021   American Chemical Society Nakanishi Prize

2018    Nirit and Michael Shaoul Fellow, Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel Aviv University
2016    Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance (ISMAR)
2016    Edmond de Rothschild lecturer, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, Paris
2014    Günther Laukien Prize, Experimental NMR Conference
2013    Award for Outstanding Career Achievement in Research, Iowa State University (ISU)
2012    Protein Society Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award
2010    Founders Medal, International Council on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems
2010    Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007    The first John D. Corbett Professorship
2007    Mid-Career Research Award, ISU
2006    Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award, Iota Sigma Pi
2004    Mary Lyon Award, Mount Holyoke College
2003    Early Achievement in Research/Artistic Creativity Award, ISU
2003    Pure Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society
2002    Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, Sloan Foundation
2001    CAREER Award, National Science Foundation
2000    Research Innovation Award, Research Corporation
1999     Beckman Young Investigator Award, Beckman Foundation
1998     POWRE Award, National Science Foundation
1997     National Institute of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship
1992     American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award, Mount Holyoke College


By summer 2021, ~215 publications, with a Web of Science cumulative h-index of 59.