Dr. Tang conducted his graduate research on the catabolic pathway of the essential amino acid lysine in the laboratory of Dr. Gad Galili at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Israel. He then moved to the laboratory of Dr. Phillip D. Zamore at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for his post-doctoral research on plant RNA interference (RNAi) and microRNA (miRNA) pathways.
Currently, Dr. Tang focuses on two general fields: (1) Plant gene silencing, and (2) Plant natural products. For the study of plant gene silencing, Dr. Tang’s main focus is to dissect the plant RNAi and miRNA pathways via a biochemical approach using wheat germ and maize germ extracts. Specifically, Dr. Tang studies the assembly of RNA-induced gene-silencing complex (RISC) and the complex-guided target mRNA cleavage or translational repression both in vivo in plants and in vitro in test tubes. Dr. Tang also studies to develop simple but efficient RNAi technologies for plant gene suppression.
For the study of plant natural products, Dr. Tang collaborates with the faculties at the Kentucky Tobacco Research & Development Center (KTRDC) and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences to dissect and to improve the plant metabolic pathways using genetic engineering and gene suppression technologies. The goal is to discover new useful plant natural products and to promote their production in plants.