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Photo of Lu, Yi
Office Location: WEL 4.244

Yi Lu


Richard J. V. Johnson – Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry

Department Research Areas:
Advanced Materials, Polymers and Nanotechnology
Environmental Engineering

Research Group Website

Educational Qualifications

Postdoc, Professor Harry B. Gray Group, Caltech (1992-1994)
Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles (1992)
B.S. Chemistry, Peking University (1986)


Biocatalysis, Biosensing, Biomedical imaging, Computational Biology, Environment & Sustainability, Enzymology, Synthetic Biology, Functional DNA nanotechnology, Bionanomaterials.


1. Biosynthetic Inorganic Chemistry: Computational design and directed evolution of artificial metalloenzymes as environmentally benign biocatalysts for renewable energy generation and pharmaceutical drug syntheses.

2. Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology: Engineer biocatalysts to address challenges in synthetic organic chemistry and applications of novel biocatalysts in synthetic biology for biomass conversion and valuable products generation in high yield and good selectivity.

3. Bioanalytical Chemistry: Design and selection of sensors and imaging agents for metal ions, metabolites and glycoRNAs to advance metallomics, metabolomics and glycomics for medical diagnosis, imaging and therapy in neurodegenerative and infectious diseases and cancers.

4. Functional DNA Nanotechnology: Using DNA for encoded synthesis and directed assembly of nanomaterials, as well as the applications of these nanomaterials as theranostic agents for early detection of diseases such as cancers and targeted drug delivery.

5. Gene Editing/Therapy: Developing novel gene-editing methods to improve sequence fidelity and gene target accessibility.

Awards & Honors

  • Allen Distinguished Investigators, 2022
  • Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), 2021
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Joseph Chatt Award, 2020
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Applied Inorganic Chemistry Award, 2015
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2007
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor Award, 2002-2006
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 1999 – 2001
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, 1998 – 2000
  • Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Award, 1997 – 1999
  • Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award, 1996 – 1998
  • National Science Foundation, NSF CAREER Award, 1995 – 1998


Department of Chemistry

Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Graduate Program at UT

Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the UT Dell Medical School

Texas Materials Institute

John Ring LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease (CID)

Selected Publications

  • Yu Zhou, Dr. Evan N. Mirts, Sangdo Yook, Dr. Matthew Waugh, Rachel Martini, Yong-Su Jin, Yi Lu, “Reshaping the 2-Pyrone Synthase Active Site for Chemoselective Biosynthesis of Polyketides,” Angew Chemie Int. Ed. 62, e2022124 ( (2023).

  • Yiwei Liu, Kevin A. Harnden, Casey Van Stappen, Sergei A. Dikanov, and Yi Lu, "A designed Histidine-brace enzyme for oxidative depolymerization of polysaccharides as a model of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase," Proc Natl Acad Sci. USA 120 (43) e2308286120 (2023).

  • Yuan Ma, Weijie Guo, Quanbing Mou, Xiangli Shao, Mingkuan Lyu, Valeria Garcia, Linggen Kong, Whitney Lewis, Carson Ward, Zhenglin Yang, Xingxin Pan, S. Stephen Yi, Yi Lu, “Spatial imaging of glycoRNA in single cells with ARPLA",” Nature Biotech (

  • Yuting Wu, Seyed-Fakhreddin Torabi, Ryan J. Lake, Shanni Hong, Zhengxin Yu, Peiwen Wu, Zhenglin Yang, Kevin Nelson, Weijie Guo, Gregory T. Pawel, Jacqueline Van Stappen, Xiangli Shao, Liviu M. Mirica, and Yi Lu. “Simultaneous Fe2+/Fe3+ imaging shows Fe3+ over Fe2+ enrichment in Alzheimer’s disease mouse brain,” Science Adv. 9, (2023).

  • Yunling Deng, Sudharsan Dwaraknath, Wenhao O. Ouyang, Cory J. Matsumoto, Stephanie Ouchida, and Yi Lu, “Engineering an Oxygen-Binding Protein for Photocatalytic CO2 Reductions in Water,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. e202215719  ( (2023).

  • Ruo-Can Qian, Ze-Rui Zhou, Yuting Wu, Zhenglin Yang, Weijie Guo, Da-Wei Li, Yi Lu, “Combination Cancer Treatment: Using Engineered DNAzyme Molecular Machines for Dynamic Inter- and Intracellular Regulation,” Angew Chemie Int. Ed. 61,  e2022109  ( (2022).

  • Tingjie Song, Xiaojing Wang, Dongbao Yao, Haojun Liang, and Yi Lu, “Identifying and Differentiating Topological G-Quadruplex Structures with DNA-encoded Plasmonic Gold Nanoparticles,” Angew Chemie Int. Ed. 61, e202204201 ( (2022).

  • Casey Van Stappen, Yunling Deng, Yiwei Liu, Hirbod Heidari, Jing-Xiang Wang, Yu Zhou, Aaron P. Ledray, Yi Lu, "Designing Artificial Metalloenzymes by Tuning of the Environment beyond the Primary Coordination Sphere,” Chem. Rev. 122, 14, 11974–12045 (2022).

  • Quanbing Mou, Xueyi Xue, Yuan Ma, Mandira Banik, Valeria Garcia, Weijie Guo, Jiang Wang, Tingjie Song, Li-Qing Chen, and Yi Lu, “Efficient delivery of a DNA aptamer-based biosensor into plant cells for glucose sensing through thiol-mediated uptake,” Science Advances 8, eabo0902 (2022).

  • Xiaojing Wang, Gun Kim, James L. Chu, Tingjie Song, Zhenglin Yang, Weijie Guo, Xiangli Shao, Michael L. Oelze, King C. Li and Yi Lu, “Noninvasive and Spatiotemporal Control of DNAzyme-Based Imaging of Metal Ions In Vivo Using High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 144, 5812–5819 (2022).

  • JingJing Zhang, Tian Lan, and Yi Lu, “Overcoming Major Barriers to Developing Successful Sensors for Practical Applications Using Functional Nucleic Acids,” Rev. Anal. Chem. 15, 151-171 (2022).

  • Yiming Wang, Nitya sai Reddy Satyavolu, Hong Yang, Yi Lu, "Kinetic Reconstruction of DNA-Programmed Plasmonic Metal Nanostructures with Predictable Shapes and Optical Properties," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 144, 4410–4421 (2022).

  • Claire E. McGhee, Zhenglin Yang, Weijie Guo, Yuting Wu, Mingkuan Lyu, Cynthia J. DeLong, Shanni Hong, Yuan Ma, Melvin G. McInnis, K. Sue O’Shea, and Yi Lu, “DNAzyme-Based Lithium-Selective Imaging Reveals Higher Lithium Accumulation in Bipolar Disorder Patient-Derived Neurons,” ACS Central Science 7, 1809–1820 (2021).

  • Ana S. Peinetti, Ryan J. Lake, Wen Cong, Laura Cooper, Yuting Wu, Yuan Ma, Gregory T. Pawel, María Eugenia Toimil-Molares, Christina Trautmann, Lijun Rong, Benito Mariñas, Omar Azzaroni, and Yi Lu, “Direct detection of human adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2 with ability to inform infectivity using a DNA aptamer-nanopore sensor,” Science Advances. 7, eabh2848 (2021).

  • Mingkuan Lyu, Linggen Kong, Zhenglin Yang, Yuting Wu, Claire E. McGhee, and Yi Lu, “PNA-Assisted DNAzymes to Cleave Double-Stranded DNA for Genetic Engineering with High Sequence Fidelity,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 143, 9724–9728 (2021).

  • Yuting Wu, Zhenglin Yang and Yi Lu, Photocaged functional nucleic acids for spatiotemporal imaging in biology, Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. 57, 95-104 (2020).

  • Ying Xiong, Jingjing Zhang, Zhenglin Yang, Quanbing Mou, Yuan Ma, Yonghua Xiong, and Yi Lu, “Functional DNA Regulated CRISPR-Cas12a Sensors for Point-of-Care Diagnostics of Non-Nucleic Acid Targets,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 142, 207-213 (2020).

  • Lele Li, Hang Xing, Jingjing Zhang, and Yi Lu, “Functional DNA Molecules Enable Selective and Stimuli-Responsive Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications,” Acc. Chem. Res. (special issue “Nanomedicine and Beyond”), 52, 2415-2426 (2019).

  • Evan N. Mirts, Ambika Bhagi-Damodaran, and Yi Lu, “Understanding and Modulating Metalloenzymes with Unnatural Amino Acids, Non-Native Metal Ions, and Non-Native Metallocofactors,” Acc. Chem. Res. (Special Issue on “Artificial Metalloenzymes and Abiological Catalysis of Metalloenzymes”) 52, 935–944 (2019).

  • Evan N. Mirts, Igor D. Petrik, Parisa Hosseinzadeh, Mark J. Nilges, and Yi Lu, “A designed heme-[4Fe-4S] metalloenzyme catalyzes sulfite reduction like the native enzyme,” Science 361, 1098-1101 (2018).