Lab Members

Principle Investigator – Zhilei Chen (

2008 – 2014, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
2014 – 2016, Assistant Professor, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center
2016 – present, Associate Professor, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center

2000 B.S, Physics, East China Normal University
2006 Ph.D, Biophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2006-2008 Postdoc, Virology, Rockefeller University

Honors and Awards
2002, 2003 Student Conference Travel Grant, UIUC
2004 Outstanding Student Oral Presentation in the CMB/Biophysics Symposium, UIUC
2006 Eugene Rabinowich Graduate Fellowship, UIUC
2012 US Air Force Young Investigator Award
2012 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
2013 Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Select Young Faculty Award
2017 NIH New Innovator Award

We are passionate about making the next generation protein-based therapeutics and developing new technologies that facilitate and accelerate drug discovery.

Favorite quote: We cannot insure success, but we can deserve it. — John Adams

Research Assistant Professor – Karuppiah Chockalingam (2022 – )

2000 B.S. Chemical Engineering, Melbourne Univesity
2006 Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2006-2008 Postdoc. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University
2018-2022 Research Scientist, Microbial Pathogenesis & Immunology, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Email: chockalingam AT

My current research focuses on the engineering of therapeutic proteins against challenging multi-pass transmembrane protein targets. A major thrust of my work has been the discovery and development of antibodies targeting human transmembrane proteins from the serum repertoire of a phylogenetically distant species – chickens. Conventional and in-house-developed tools are employed to enable this research, including fragment antibody (Fab) phage display, whole-cell phage panning, complementarity-determining region (CDR) engineering, next-generation sequencing, and flow cytometry.

Associate Research Scientist – Yu Zeng (2023 – )

2011-2018 Postdoc and  Assistant Research Scientist, Chemistry, Texas A&M University
2018-2023 Assistant Research Scientist, Microbial Pathogenesis & Immunology, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Email: yzeng at

I am interested in exploring antimicrobial therapeutics through innovative protein engineering research. My project aims to engineer highly efficacious anti Shiga toxin DARPins that can neutralize and rapidly clear Shiga toxins from the bloodstream as therapeutics for STEC infection and beyond.

Assistant Research Scientist – Josh Bryant (2023 – )

2009 B.S. Chemistry, Hardin-Simmons University
2017 Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Texas, Austin
Email: joshbryant AT




GENE PhD candidate – Benjamin Thomas (2020 -)

2020 B.S. Genetics, Texas A&M University

Email: magicairben6 AT


I am interested in engineering therapeutics and biosensors. My research is related to developing novel technology that will aid in the discovery of proteins that can be used in the field of medicine. In my spare time, I enjoy gaming, fishing, and music.

MD/PhD candidate – Michael Woolley (2021-)

2016 B.S. Human Biology, Utah State University
2018 M.S. Animal Health and Disease, Utah State University

Email: michael.woolley AT

My research is focused on engineering new proteins that can work synergistically with your body’s immune system to fight off viral infection. The goal is to develop new therapies that can be produced quickly and cheaply in response to new or emerging pathogens.

Undergraduate students



 Lab Alumni

Former Postdocs and Research Scientists

  1. Lillian Yi Li, 2009-2010
  2. Atul Kumar, 2010
  3. Karuppiah Chockalingam, 2008-2011
  4. Dagmara Korona, 2012-2013
  5. Dongli Guan, 2012-2014 (Currently scientist at Sigma-Aldrich)
  6. Ana Chamoun, 2014-2016 (Currently postdoc fellow, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine)
  7. Peter Heinzelman, 2017-2019
  8. Zeyu Peng, 2017-2019 (Currently scientist at Biosion, Inc. China)
  9. Domyoung Kim, 2019-2021 (Currently scientist at iBio, Inc.)
  10. Vikas Chonira, 2019-2022 (Currently scientist at Marengo Therapeutics, Inc.)
  11. Rudo Simeon, 2016-2023 (Currently scientist at UTHealth)

Former Graduate Students

  1. Rudo Simeon, 2009-2013, Ph.D. East Bay Municipal Utility District, California
  2. Cory Klemashevich, 2009-2012, MS
  3. Miguel Ramirez, 2008-2013, Ph.D. University of Otago, New Zealand
  4. Ana Chamoun, 2009-2014, Ph.D. (Currently postdoc fellow, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine)
  5. Lizy Yu, 2016-2017
  6. Nagarjun Kasaraneni, 2012-2017, Ph.D. (Current scientist at Lonza-Viral Therapy)

Former Visiting Scholar

  1. Xuesong Liang, 2012-2013. M.D. Department of Infectious Disease, Shanghai Changhai Hospital.

Former Undergraduate Students

  1. Taylor Sugg, 2009
  2. Juan Sebastian Jerez, 2010
  3. Najla Valdes, 2008-2012
  4. Osama Qureshi, 2010
  5. Jeanene Tomecek, 2012
  6. Ivan Barrera, 2012
  7. Vivian Salamanca, 2011
  8. Daniel Jacobsen, 2010
  9. Thomas McMillian, 2012-2013
  10. Partho Giri, 2012
  11. John Roger, 2012-2013, currently University of Houston Medical School.
  12. Corbin Williams, 2013
  13. Elaine Chen, 2017, currently graduate student at Vanderbilt University.
  14. Ashley Wrinkle, 2019 REU
  15. Blake Mitchell, 2018-2020, currently graduate student at Cornell University
  16. Alex Shawn, 2018-2020
  17. Bianca Rodriguez, 2021 REU
  18. Alyssa Low, 2019-2021, UT Southwestern Medical school.
  19. Cole Feuquay (2019 -2021 )
  20. Nurmeen Khokhar (2020-2021)
  21. Nathan Ramsey (2021)