About Me

Hi! My name is Chris Zhou. Welcome to my Grand Challenges Scholar (GCS) e-portfolio!

  • Hometown: Beijing -> Irvine, California
  • Education: Duke University, class of 2020
  • Programs of study: 
    • Biomedical engineering major
    • Innovation and entrepreneurship certificate
  • GCS Advisor: Dr. Nenad Bursac
  • GC Focus: Engineering better medicines
  • GC Thesis topic: Modeling Pompe Disease with Engineered Human Skeletal Muscle

To learn more about the Grand Challenges Scholars program at Duke, click here.

Why GC program?

I still remember the excitement when I pondered over the countless college opportunities when I first entered Duke. Balancing oneself among between all kinds of extracurricular commitments is always a formidable task. Where should I start?

The GCS program allows me to build continuity between the various experiences I had during my Duke career. It’s like a flexible formula that integrates a wide range of themes and activities under one uniform challenge. Now I have a grander purpose when I engage in all the diverse experiences, the various components clicking with each other like pieces of Legos — each indispensable, and together they assemble into wildly unique structures.


Although classically trained, I am an avid pop pianist who specializes in movie, Disney, and anime music. The talented student body at Duke joined me with like-minded pianists in a club called Devilish Keys. We arrange and perform popular piano pieces using up to four pianos at once on stage. I am also a 1st degree brown belt in Shotokan Karate. Practicing karate not only provided a balance between mind and body, it also strengthened my unwavering will to push beyond my physical limits. After a summer study abroad experience in Cambridge University, I uncovered another curious hobby none of my friends shared: I became an amateur gothic architecture enthusiast! After visiting a few magnificent cathedrals in Europe, I became enchanted by their rich and grandiose display of art, history, and religion. They represent the culmination of generations of cultural heritage across countless disciplines – masterful engineering among them. I’ve always aspired to utilize my dual-cultural background and my scientific expertise to create something as impactful as these stunning structures. You can visit a photo blog I made documenting 17 churches I visited at https://sites.duke.edu/pkp2017clc/


I’ve always had a strong interest in combining science and business. After arriving at Duke, I began to zoom in on the field of life science innovation. I hope to develop and introduce biotech innovations to both patients and the general population alike, bridging gaps between scientific research and medical practice. Life science innovation can take many forms. It can range from an effective therapeutic to a biotech inspired gadget or wearable. I hope that I can utilize the skills I develop at Duke to revolutionize the innovation landscape in the life sciences and medicine. I wish to not only become an inventor of life-saving technologies, but also someone who inspires the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in biomedicine.