Research Areas

The mission of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) is to advance life science research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and to stimulate bio-economic development in the state of Illinois. To achieve that mission, our research themes capitalize on recent advances in genome science and technology.

Research at the IGB falls under one of three Program Areas:

  • Systems Biology
  • Cellular and Metabolic Engineering
  • Genome Technology

Most research themes are part of the Systems Biology and Cellular and Metabolic Engineering Program Areas. These Themes use genomically sequenced microbial, plant, or animal species (including insects) as model or target organisms. The goal is to achieve integration within life kingdoms and across Program Areas, as well as higher order interactions among the Research Themes.

Research within the themes focuses on significant problems facing humanity, such as treating chronic human diseases, managing new and emerging pests and pathogens, and maintaining an abundant and healthy food supply. IGB is also home to programs that explore the ethical, legal, and social issues arising from the genomic research.


There are eleven research themes at the IGB and one externally funded research institute:

New themes may be proposed at any time, by any member on campus. Refer to the IGB Theme Proposal Whitepaper.


Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory
The IGB has partnered with Abbott and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology to establish the first-ever multi-disciplinary nutrition and cognition research center, the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory. CNLM will lead directed and solicited research on the impact of nutrition on learning and memory in the human brain.

CompGen Initiative
The CompGen Initiative combines the collective strengths of Illinois’ genomic research with its prowess in large-scale parallel systems and big data to develop new technology enabling genomic breakthroughs. Researchers from across the Illinois campus are collaborating to build an instrument that will allow faster, more accurate DNA sequencing and the processing of massive data sets. IGB researchers have joined with the Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL) to develop and build the instrument.

KnowEnG: NIH Center of Excellence in Big Data Computing
KnowEnG (pronounced "knowing") is a National Institutes of Health-funded initiative that brings together researchers from the University of Illinois and Mayo Clinic to create a Center of Excellence in Big Data Computing. It is part of the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative that NIH launched in 2012 to tap the wealth of information contained in biomedical Big Data. KnowEnG is one of 11 Centers of Excellence in Big Data Computing funded by NIH in 2014.