Hailing Jin received her BS degree in Genetics from Wuhan University in 1991 and PhD in Molecular Genetics, from the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1996. She conducted postdoctoral work at the John Innes Center and University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at the University of California, Riverside in 2004 and is currently a Professor and the Cy Mouradick Endowed Chair.
Jin’s research program is focused on the molecular mechanism of plant immunity and pathogen virulence, with the overall goal to develop effective means for disease control. She has been internationally recognized as the leader in the field of small RNAs and epigenetics in plant-pathogen interactions and plant host immunity. Dr. Jin has made significant contributions to both basic and applied research areas in the plant disease resistance field. Importantly, she discovered that small RNAs can move from pathogen to host and inhibit the plant host immune response, a phenomenon called Cross-Kingdom RNAi. She also found that small RNAs can also move from host to pathogen to influence pathogen virulence, supporting that cross-kingdom RNAi and small RNA trafficking is bidirectional.
Jin also holds three patents on technology development for early diagnosis of plant diseases and for plant protection against infection by eukaryotic pathogens. Two of Jin’s patents described the revolutionary RNA-based new generation of fungicides. They discovered that fungal pathogens are capable of taking up RNAs from the environment, which enable the development of RNA-based disease control tools. These are small RNAs or double stranded RNAs that target and disrupt processes in the pathogen that are necessary for plant disease. These RNA agents have the potential to protect grapes, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, onions, flowers, and other vegetables and fruits from infection by eukaryotic pathogens. This novel approach is likely to be more environmentally sustainable than current fungicides and more socially acceptable than GMO-based approaches to disease management. Another patent proposes using citrus small RNAs as early diagnostic markers for detecting Candidatus Liberibacter, the bacterium that causes the most devastating citrus disease - citrus greening (Huanglongbing). Diagnosis of citrus greening at an early infection stage has always been very challenging because the bacterium is phloem-limited and unevenly distributed in the tree—the current bacterial-based methods can only detect the bacterium six months to a year after the trees become infected. Jin’s approach to use host responsive small RNAs as diagnostic markers is much more sensitive and has great potential, as small RNAs have been used for diagnosis of human diseases, such as cancer.
Jin has published more than 60 research articles in highly respected journals, including Science, Nature, Molecular Cell, Cell, Nature Plants, Nature Communications, and Genes & Development, has edited two books, and written five book chapters. Jin received a prestigious NSF Career Award at the beginning of her career, and since that time she has been continuously supported by grants from NSF and NIH. Jin has been invited to give more than 100 oral presentations since tenure, including keynote and plenary talks, at international and national scientific meetings and research institutions. She serves on editorial boards of four respected scientific journals in the plant and RNA fields. Dr. Jin was named a University of California President’s Endowed Chair in 2015. She was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jin’s seminal contributions to Plant Pathology were recognized in July 2016 at UC Riverside when she was awarded the Cy Mouradick Endowed Chair, for distinguished work and significant research in agriculture.
Jin’s scientific achievements are reflected by her strong funding support, excellent publication record, three inventions, numerous invitations to speak at national and international scientific meetings and institutions, and requests to write reviews and commentary articles. She has been also actively involved in outreach activities, including communicating with local media to increase the public awareness of plant diseases, such as citrus greening. Her research accomplishments and inventions are highly recognized in the field, making her the ideal candidate for the Ruth Allen Award.