Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
MissionTo advance life sciences research and stimulate bioeconomic development in the state of Illinois.
FocusTransformative research in systems biology, cellular and metabolic engineering and genome technology.
DirectorGene E. Robinson
Address1206 W Gregory Drive
United States of America

The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) is an interdisciplinary facility for genomics research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The construction of the IGB, which was completed in 2006, represented a strategy to centralize biotechnology research at the University of Illinois. A goal of the IGB is to provide a collaborative environment in which researchers with diverse backgrounds are drawn together by their pursuit of scientific questions related to genomics. The interdisciplinary nature of the institute promotes the creation of innovative solutions to societal challenges related to health, the environment, and food production. Current research at the IGB explores the genomic bases of a wide range of phenomena, including the progression of cancer, the ecological impact of global change, tissue and organ growth, and the diversity of animal behavior.[1]



Plans for what would become the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) were formed in the late 1990s.[1] Initially, the facility was to be named the Post-Genomic Institute; the name was changed to Institute for Genomic Biology in 2003.[2] Funds of $67.5 million were initially appropriated by the state of Illinois for construction in 2000.[3] In response to economic hardships, the state halted plans for construction in 2001 as part of a large set of budget cuts,[4] but in 2002, funds were re-appropriated.[5] Construction began in April 2004 and was completed in November 2006. The building was dedicated in March 2007.[1] The Institute, initially named the Institute for Genomic Biology, officially changed its name to the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology in 2015 to honor the scientific contributions of Carl Woese.


The IGB was initially led by Harris Lewin, then a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. Lewin served as the founding director until 2011, when he accepted the position of Research Vice Chancellor at University of California, Davis. Gene E. Robinson, a professor in the Entomology department, took over as Interim Director, and was named the new Director of IGB in January 2012.[1]



The IGB houses over 130 faculty and 600+ graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research personnel. IGB faculty are drawn from a broad range of departments, including Crop Sciences, Psychology, Entomology, Physics and Computer Science.[1]


Work at the IGB addresses societal challenges related to health, the environment, DNA technologies, and food and fuel production, both through fundamental and applied research and through exploration of ethical and legal issues. Research is further organized into Themes, each of which occupies a customized lab and office space. Each Theme contains multiple research groups. These groups often pursue some research questions independently, but are unified by a common interest in the broader area of the Theme. The multi-group space encourages communication and collaboration among researchers with diverse backgrounds and technical skills. One senior faculty member acts as Theme leader, and is responsible for shaping and guiding the overall research initiative. Themes are reviewed every five years; new Themes may be added or existing Themes modified to reflect the current state of genomics research. Current Themes are listed below:[1]

Research Themes and Initiatives at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Theme Theme Leader Description of Research
Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People (ACPP) Paul Hergenrother Develops cancer treatments in pet animals that translate to human disease.
Biocomplexity (BCXT) Nigel Goldenfeld Explores the origin of life and the behavior of biological systems.
Biosystems Design (BSD) Huimin Zhao Applies engineering principles to real and artificial biological systems.
Computing Genomes for Reproductive Health (CGRH) (TBD) Examines the interplay among genetic and environmental factors that influence disorders of reproduction.
Gene Networks in Neural and Developmental Biology (GNDP) Lisa Stubbs Examines the effects of coordinated gene activity on biological diversity.
Genomic Ecology of Global Change (GEGC) Donald Ort Studies the intersection of plant genomics and global climate change.
Infection Genomics for One Health (IGOH) Rachel Whitaker Examines how microbes in human-inhabited environments influence health and disease.
Microbiome Metabolic Engineering (MME) Isaac Cann Explores the relationships among human microbiota, environment, and health.
Mining Microbial Genomes (MMG) William Metcalf Discovers small molecules that might provide new medical solutions.
Omics Nanotechnology for Cancer Precision Medicine (ONC-PM) Brian Cunningham Develops new technology to identify and manage cancerous tumors.
Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering (RBTE) Brendan Harley Studies the replacement or regeneration of tissues and organs.
Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) Evan DeLucia Develops bioenergy crops, innovates efficient biomass transformation, transform biomass into valuable chemicals, and matches crops and bioproducts to regional ecosystems and markets.
Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) John Coates[a] Seeks to develop and improve sources of two major types of bioenergynon-food crops and fossil-fuel microbiology—in part through investigation of the genomic specializations of the organisms involved in each.

Notable awards and partnerships

In 2007, the University of Illinois, along with the University of California, became partners with the energy company BP as part of a major research project to develop bioenergy sources. The University of Illinois facility is based in the IGB.[6]

In 2011, Abbott Nutrition and the University of Illinois formed collaboration to establish a research center for the study of the relationship between nutrition and cognition, the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory (CNLM). Several campus units are currently partners of CNLM, including the IGB.[7]


The IGB is located on the south side of the University of Illinois main campus at Urbana-Champaign. The building was constructed by the architecture firm CUH2A (now a part of the architecture-engineering company HDR). The exterior of the building was designed to include elements of Georgian architecture, consistent with many other campus buildings, but with a modern feel.[8] Inside, each Research Theme has a large, open plan laboratory space and additional work rooms and office and meeting area.[1] The building stands adjacent to the Morrow Plots.

See also


  1. ^ Professor of Microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of the Energy Biosciences Institute. Isaac Cann, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, is Deputy Director.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Institute for Genomic Biology: Where science meets society". Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  2. ^ Tallon, Mary (2003-07-18). "U. Illinois trustees approve health benefits for same-sex partners". Daily Illini.
  3. ^ "Governor expected to unveil $1 billion technology initiative". Associated Press Services. 2000-01-29.
  4. ^ McDermott, Kevin (2001-11-28). "Ryan pares $219 million from Illinois budget". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  5. ^ "State gives U. of I. $123 million for tech buildings". Midwest Construction. December 2002.
  6. ^ Mercer, David (2007-02-01). "Two U.S. universities chosen by BP for partnership in alternative-fuels research". Associated Press Worldstream.
  7. ^ des Garennes, Christine (2011-12-22). "University of Illinois, Abbott developing nutrition, cognition research center". The News-Gazette.
  8. ^ "Award winning Institute for Genomic Biology designed by CUH2A opens at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign". Business Wire. 2007-04-18.

Coordinates: 40°06′17″N 88°13′30″W / 40.104728°N 88.225011°W / 40.104728; -88.225011