Primary Research Area
- Biological Physics
For More Information
- Ph.D. in Biophysics, University of California at San Diego (2007)
- B.S. in Physics, Zhejiang University (2002)
Our research focuses on microbial synthetic biology and systems biology - the design, analysis and construction of microbial gene regulatory networks for cellular functionality reprogramming. These are interdisciplinary research areas at the nexus of biology, engineering and physics. Specifically, we are interested in understanding the architecture and dynamics of naturally existing networks and exploring their relationship to cellular function. Examples include bacterial communication networks and their engagement in cellular collective behaviors. We are also interested in developing synthetic gene circuits for novel applications by assembling and editing genes and genomes inside living cells, which is very much like building integrated circuits with transistors and other elements for a computer. Along that line, microbial ecosystem engineering is of particular interest to us due to its potential for biotechnological and therapeutic purposes. To pursue our interest, we adopt L. lactics, E. coli and other microbes as our model organisms and employ an integrated approach that combines experiment with modeling. Techniques from molecular biology, nonlinear dynamics and statistical mechanics are extensively used in our research. Our long-term goal is to uncover basic design principles of microbial gene regulatory networks and to apply these principles to build novel circuits for biotechnological and medical applications.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
We are looking for highly motivated undergraduate students to work on synthetic biology and systems biology.
- Synthetic Biology, Systems Biology, and Quantitative Biology
Selected Articles in Journals
- F. Liu, J. Mao, W. Kong, Q. Hua, Y. Feng, R. Bashir and T. Lu, Interaction variability shapes succession of synthetic microbial ecosystems, Nature Communications 11:309 (2019).
- V. Ozgen, W. Kong, A. Blanchard, F. Liu, and T. Lu, Spatial interference scale as a determinent of microbial range expansion, Science Advances 4: eaau0695 (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 Research 45: 1005-1014 (2016)
- W. Kong, K. Kapuganti, and T. Lu, A gene network engineering platform for lactic acid bacteria, Nucleic Acid Research 44: 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, Metabolic Engineering 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)
- Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2022)
- AWS Greg Gulick Honorary Research Award (2021)
- Merck Future Insight Prize (2021)
- Donald Biggar Willett Faculty Scholar (UIUC) (2020)
- NIH Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (2019)
- U.S. NAS Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship (2019)
- Dean's Award for Excellence in Research (UIUC) (2019)
- ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award (2018)
- MSU Center for Biofilm Engineering Young Investigator Award (2017)
- Center for Advanced Study Fellow (UIUC) (2017)
- NCSA Faculty Fellowship (2016)
- ONR Young Investigator Award (2016)
- BMES Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (2016)
- NSF CAREER Award (2015)
- BBRF Ellen Schapiro & Gerald Axelbaum Investigator (2015)
- NARSAD Young Investigator Award (2014)
- AHA National Scientist Development Grant (2012)
Recent Courses Taught
- BIOE 430 - Intro Synthetic Biology
- BIOE 497 TL (BIOE 497 TLU) - Individual Study
- BIOE 498 TL - Systems Biology
- BIOE 598 TL (BIOE 598 ISB) - Introduction to Synthetic Bio