Ting Lu

Faculty Affiliate


Ting Lu
3114 Everitt Lab

For more information

Research Interests

  • Synthetic Biology, Systems Biology, and Quantitative Biology

Research Statement

Gene regulatory networks are one of the main cellular infrastructures that confer defined biological functions. Our research focuses on synthetic and systems biology - the analysis, construction, and exploitation of these regulatory networks for cellular functionality programming. This is an interdisciplinary research area that spans the boundary between biology, engineering, and physics. Specifically, we are interested in understanding the architecture and dynamics of naturally existing networks, primarily those in bacteria, and exploring their relationship to cellular function. One interesting example is bacterial communication networks and their roles in enabling cellular collective behaviors. In parallel, we are interested in engineering gene circuits for biomedical applications by assembling and editing genes and genomes inside living cells, very much like building integrated circuits with transistors and other elements for a computer. Along that line, microbiota reengineering is very attractive to us because of its potential for therapeutic interventions. To pursue our interest, we have adopted E. coli and other bacteria as our model organisms, and have also employed an integrated experimental and computational approach. Experimental techniques from molecular biology and theoretical tools from nonlinear dynamics and statistical mechanics are extensively used in our research. Our long-term goal is to uncover nature's design principles of gene regulatory networks and to apply these principles to engineer novel circuits for biomedical applications.

Teaching Honors

  • List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, UIUC (2015)
  • ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award (2018)
  • Invited Participant, Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium, U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2017)
  • Center for Biofilm Engineering Young Investigator Award, Montana State University (2017)
  • Center for Advanced Study Fellow, UIUC (2017)
  • NCSA Faculty Fellowship (2016)
  • Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (2016)
  • Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (BMES) (2016)
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2015)
  • Ellen Schapiro & Gerald Axelbaum Investigator (BBRF) (2015)
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award (BBRF) (2014)
  • AHA National Scientist Development Grant (2012)

Selected Articles in Journals

  • V. Celik, W. Kong, A. Blanchard, F. Liu, and T. Lu, Spatial interference scale as a determinent of microbial range expansion, Science Advances, in press (2018).
  • W. Kong, D. Meldgin, J. Collins, and T. Lu, Designing microbial consortia with defined social interactions, Nature Chemical Biology, 14: 821–829 (2018).
  • C. Liao, A. Blanchard, and T. Lu, An integrative circuit-host modeling framework for predicting synthetic gene network behaviors, Nature Microbiology 2: 1658–1666 (2017).
  • W. Kong, A. Blanchard, C. Liao, and T. Lu, Engineering robust and tunable spatial structures with synthetic gene circuits, Nucleic Acids Res. 45: 1005-1014 (2016)
  • W. Kong, K. Kapuganti, and T. Lu, A gene network engineering platform for lactic acid bacteria, Nucleic Acid Res. 44(4): e37 (2015)
  • C. Liao, S. Seo, V. Celik, H. Liu, W. Kong, Y. Wang, H. Blaschek, Y. Jin, and T. Lu, Integrated, systems metabolic picture of acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation by clostridium acetobutylicum, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112: 8505–8510 (2015)
  • H. Liu and T. Lu, Autonomous production of 1,4-butanediol via a de novo biosynthesis pathway in engineered escherichia coli, Metab. Eng. 29: 135-141 (2014)
  • W. Fu, A. Ergun*, T. Lu*, J. Hill, S. Haxhinasto, M. Fassett, R. Gazit, S. Adoro, L. Glimcher, S. Chan, P. Kastner, D. Rossi, J. Collins, D. Mathis, C. Benoist, A multiply redundant genetic switch locks in the transcriptional signature of Treg cells, Nature Immunology. 13: 972-980 (2012). (*Equal contribution)
  • W. Ruder*, T. Lu*, and J. Collins, Synthetic biology moving into the clinic, Science. 333: 1248-1252 (2011). (*Equal contribution)
  • T. Lu, T. Shen, M. Bennett, P. Wolynes, and J. Hasty, Phenotypic variability of growing cellular populations, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 104: 18982-18987 (2007).

Related news

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

The mechanism of pattern formation in living systems is of paramount interest to bioengineers seeking to develop living tissue in the laboratory. Engineered tissues would have countless potential medical applications, but in order to synthesize living tissues, scientists need to understand the genesis of pattern formation in living systems.

A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University has brought science one step closer to a molecular-level understanding of how patterns form in living tissue. The researchers engineered bacteria that, when incubated and grown, exhibited stochastic Turing patterns: a “lawn” of synthesized bacteria in a petri dish fluoresced an irregular pattern of red polka dots on a field of green.