Faculty Profile

Ting Lu

Ting Lu
Ting Lu
Associate Professor
  • Bioengineering
  • Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
  • NSF NanoBioNode
3114 Everitt Lab MC 278
1406 W. Green
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-4627


  • Bioengineering
  • Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
  • NSF NanoBioNode

Primary Research Area

  • Synthetic Bioengineering


  • Ph.D. in Biophysics, University of California at San Diego (2007)
  • B.S. in Physics, Zhejiang University (2002)

For more information

Resident Instruction

  • 2012 Fall, BIOE498TL/598TL Introduction to Synthetic Biology
  • 2012 Spring, BIOE507 Advanced Bioinstrumentation

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.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

We are looking for highly motivated undergraduate students to work on synthetic and systems biology.

Research Interests

  • Synthetic Biology, Systems Biology, and Quantitative Biology

Research Areas

  • Gene regulatory networks in bacteria
  • Microbiota reengineering for therapeutic interventions
  • Quantitative biology
  • Systems biology

Research Topics

  • Computational and Systems Biology
  • Synthetic Bioengineering

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, 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 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).

Teaching Honors

  • List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, UIUC (2015)

Research Honors

  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship (2019)
  • College of Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Research (UIUC) (2019)
  • ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award (2018)
  • Invited Participant, U.S. NAS Arab-American Frontiers of Science Symposium (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)