After a breakthrough in genetics research at China’s Beijing Genomics Institute, Zhao stepped down as the head of a multimillion-dollar research project which was focused on cracking the genetic code for intelligence and founded a pioneering biomedical startup, QuantiHealth.
It is the first and leading biotech company in China focusing on personal microbiota — a collective term for the micro-organisms that live in or on the human body, e.g. the skin the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, vagina and eyes. They provide a personal microbiota testing service from sampling to report. Its core technologies are developed specifically for the personal microbiota industry, including biotechnology LinEnrich™ and informatics technology KnowledgeBase.
Born and raised in Beijing, Zhao started skipping classes to sequence the genome of a cucumber at a nearby lab. Two years later, he dropped out of school and joined BGI — a global genomics organisation based in London. QuantiHealth, employ’s bioinformatics — the use of computer programming to analyse biological data — to study how the human body responds to environmental factors.
Funded by private Chinese companies (around $3.2 million), QuantiHealth will work on developing quicker and more effective ways to evaluate health, both in terms of screening for risk and diagnosing diseases like diabetes. In 2014 Zhao was profiled in TIME magazine as one of the Next Generation Leaders.