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About the IGB

Named after Illinois professor of microbiology Carl R. Woese, who discovered the third domain of life, the mission of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology is to advance life science research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, meaningfully engage with the public to understand the impact of genomic research, and to stimulate bio-economic development in the state of Illinois.

We do so by tackling grand challenges in fundamental and applied research with genomics and multi-disciplinary team science. The IGB was originally proposed at the dawn of the genomic era as the embodiment of a goal to centralize biological and biotechnological research at Illinois, a role that it continues to fulfill today as one of the largest comprehensive genomics institute in the country.

We are a research pioneer on the Illinois campus, hosting the first NIH Center for Excellence, the first major Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant with Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), the first research supported by the Simons Foundation, and the first ZEISS labs @ location in North America through our Core Facilities light microscopy suite.


Research and Outreach

IGB members conduct path-breaking genomic research to address societal issues in the areas of food security, energy, health, technology, and environmental conservation. Our outreach and public engagement programs have been nationally recognized in its efforts to bring scientific understanding to the public, with partners such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institutes of Health.

IGB members are drawn from many schools and departments, including biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, sociology, and business. Faculty and affiliate members remain an integral part of their home departments while also pursuing collaborative projects in thematic research groups at the IGB.

In each research theme, the common goal of a particular grand challenge in research—developing more effective cancer therapeutics, creating more efficient and robust food and fuel crops, uncovering the origins of life—creates synergy among diverse groups of scientists. Our work ranges from basic research that expands the horizons of human knowledge to applied research that builds on this foundational knowledge to create new technologies. Our complement of research themes is dynamic, adapting to new discoveries, methods, and needs. Anyone in our academic community can propose a new theme.


Health & Wellness

Health &

How the genome enhances, affects, or disrupts physical and mental wellbeing.

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Technology & Socety

Technology &

Advancing our capability to shape the world and to understand each other.

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Agriculture & Energy

Agriculture &

Sustainably feeding and fueling a planet impacted by a changing global climate.

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Outreach & Public Engagement

Outreach &
Public Engagement

Encouraging the public to understand how genomics affects life and society.

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Strategic Partnerships


The IGB collaborates with partners on diverse, robust initiatives that serve to drive our research portfolio and leverage our interdisciplinary structure.

African BioGenome Project

A coordinated pan-African effort to build capacity and infrastructure to generate, analyze, and deploy genomics data for the improvement and sustainable use of biodiversity and agriculture across Africa.


Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago

The CZ Biohub Chicago is a biomedical research center that brings together leading Chicagoland scientific and technology institutions with the goal of solving grand scientific challenges on a 10- to 15-year time horizon.


Genomics and Eco-evolution of Multi-scale Symbioses (GEMS)

The GEMS Institute focuses on the classical species interaction between clover and honey bee pollinators as a model to understand the impact and dynamics of the myriad of microbes nested within them. The project takes an integrative approach to understand how molecular interactions impact the ecosystem.


High Performance Biological Computing (HPCBio)

HPCBio was created to address the need for a structure that could supply infrastructure, user support and training, and R&D capability in computational genomics to the Illinois research community. HPCBio provides a single, straightforward point of access, open to researchers from all campus units, helping them to find solutions to their biomedical data management and analysis problems.


Microbial Systems Initiative (MSI)

The goal of the MSI is to sustain a vibrant microbial sciences research and training enterprise at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Illinois microbial systems research addresses critical problems in health, agriculture, energy, and many other sectors. The MSI carries out ongoing activities to build collaboration across disciplines, provide world class training opportunities, and build environments of inclusive excellence.


Molecule Maker Lab Institute (MMLI)

The MMLI is an interdisciplinary initiative with leaders in AI and organic synthesis intensively collaborating to create frontier AI tools, dynamic open access databases, and fast and broadly accessible small molecule manufacturing and discovery platforms. Advanced AI and machine learning (ML) methods enable the MMLI to achieve AI-enabled synthesis planning, catalyst development, molecule manufacturing, and molecule discovery.


Personalized Nutrition Initiative (PNI)

The PNI is a campus-wide initiative under the leadership of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, in partnership with the IGB and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, to facilitate transdisciplinary collaborative efforts across campus to answer fundamental questions regarding how nutrition modulates health and disease across the lifespan and to translate that information to clinical care and the public.




  • Be a part of shaping the future of science and society.

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    Give to the IGB

  • Join us to work in our multidisciplinary, thematic research themes.

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