Chunhua Zhao, who was born in 1963 in Qingdao, Shandong Province, came to the University of Minnesota for postdoc training in 1995, two years after earning his Ph.D in medicine from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing. Zhao was awarded the Minnesota Bone Marrow Transplant Research Fund in 1996, as well as the Minnesota Medical Research Foundation Award and the University of Minnesota Foundation Award in 2000. He became a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in 1998, serving as an assistant professor at the Stem Cell Institute & Cancer Center. In 1999, Zhao was granted professorship by the U.S. National Key Laboratory for Experimental Hematology and served as its executive director. Zhao returned to China to continue his stem cell research in 2000. He then served as the deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of Experimental Hematology and the National Engineering Research Center for Stem Cell, and as the director of the China-US International Cooperation Laboratory. Zhao is currently the director of the Engineering Research Center and Department of Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. He is also a Yangzi River Scholars Program Professor, a winner of the National Outstanding Youth Fund, a national candidate of National New Century Talents Project, a member of National Natural Science Foundation of Life Sciences Advisory Expert Committee, and the editor of several respected science magazines.
Zhao has long been engaged in stem cell research. He has published over 80 papers in respected journals in the field. He proposed and confirmed the "sub-totipotent stem cell theory" in the international arena. He presided over the country's first stem cell research and innovative medicines to declare "primitive bone marrow mesenchyme stem cells," which gained approval to conduct clinical trials by the State Food and Drug Administration.