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Gee Lau

Associate Professor, Pathobiology

Address and Contact Information

College of Veterinary Medicine
2001 South Lincoln Avenue
2229 Vet Med Basic Sciences Bldg.
Urbana, IL  61802


  • BS, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Bacteriology)
  • MS, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Fungal pathogenesis. Advisor: Prof. Albert Ellingboe)
  • PhD, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (Fungal pathogenesis. Advisor: Prof. John Hamer)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial College School of Medicine, London (Bacterial pathogenesis. Advisor: Prof. David Holden)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Bacterial pathogenesis. Advisor: Prof. Laurence Rahme) 

Research Interests

  • Modulation of airway immune response and induction of mucus hypersecretion by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other microbial pathogens in chronic disease airways
  • Mechanisms of bacterial resistance and susceptibility to pulmonary surfactant proteins
  • Regulation of genetic transfer and virulence by Streptococcus pneumoniae competence regulon
  • Carbon nanotube toxicity and susceptibility to microbial infections.


Dr. Lau was a research assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine where he researched the immune modulation of bronchiectatic airways by P. aeruginosa redox toxin pyocyanin, and the antimicrobial properties of pulmonary surfactant proteins. He joined UIUC in 2006. Currently, he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology in the Department of Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Courses Taught

  • Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology
  • Pathobiologic Basis of Disease II
  • Independent studies and thesis research for undergraduate, DVM and graduate students
  • Research training for postdoctoral fellows and pathology residents

Selected Publications

Selected from 50 peer-reviewed articles.

Jeffries JL, Jia J, Choi WS, Choe S, Miao JF, Xu Y, Powell R, Lin J, Kuang Z, Gaskins HR, Lau GW. 2015. Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyocyanin modulates mucin glycosylation with sialyl Lewis-x to increase binding to airway epithelial cells. Mucosal Immunology (MI-15-098), in Press.

Lin J, Zhu L and Lau GW. 2015. Disentangling competence for genetic transformation and virulence in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Current Genetics [Epub ahaed of print]. PMID 26403231.

Zhu L, Lin J, Kuang Z, Vidal JE, Lau GW. 2015. Deletion analysis of Streptococcus pneumoniae late competence genes distinguishes virulence determinants that are dependent or independent of competence induction. Mol Microbiol. 97(1):151-65.

Parkinson EI, Bair JS, Nakamura BA, Lee HY, Kuttab HI, Southgate EH, Lezmi S, Lau GW, Hergenrother PJ. 2015. Deoxynybomycins inhibit mutant DNA gyrase and rescue mice infected with fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria. Nat Commun. 6:6947. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7947.

Walling BE, Kuang ZZ, Hao YH, Gastouniotis C, Lau GW. 2015. Helical carbon nanotubes alter F-actin and ARP2 distribution in macrophages and inhibit P. aeruginosa phagocytosis in an intracellular accumulation-dependent manner. J Nanomed Res. 2(1):00019. DOI:10.15406/jnmr.2015.02.00019.

Jin Z, Chung JW, Mei W, Strack S, He C, Lau GW, Yang J. 2015. Regulation of nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling and function of Family with sequence similarity 13, member A (Fam13a), by B56-containing PP2As and Akt. Mol Biol Cell. 26(6):1160-73.

Tan RM, Kuang Z, Hao Y, Lee F, Lee T, Lee RJ, Lau GW. 2015. Type IV pilus glycosylation mediates resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to opsonic activities of the pulmonary surfactant protein A. Infect Immun. 83(4):1339-46.

Hao Y, Kuang Z, Miao J, Krause DC, Lau, GW. 2014. Mycoplasma pneumoniae modulates STAT3-STAT6/EGFR-FOXA2 signaling to induce overexpression of airway mucins. Infect Immun 82(12):5246-55.

Li Y, Petrova OE, Su S, Lau GW, Panmanee W, Na R, Hassett DJ, Davies DG, Sauer K. 2014.  BdlA, DipA and Induced Dispersion Contribute to Acute Virulence and Chronic Persistence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLoS Pathog 10(6):e1004168.

Walling BE, Lau GW. 2014. Perturbation of pulmonary immune functions by carbon nanotubes and susceptibility to microbial infection. J Microbiol 52(3):227-34.

Tan RM, Kuang ZZ, Hao YH, Lau GW. 2014. Type IV Pilus of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Confers Resistance to Antimicrobial Activities of the Pulmonary Surfactant Protein-A. J Innate Immun 6(2):227-39.

Walling BE, Kuang Z, Hao Y, Estrada D, Wood JD, Lian F, Miller LA, Shah AB, Jeffries JL, Haasch RT, Lyding JW, Pop E, Lau GW. 2013. Helical carbon nanotubes enhance the early immune response and inhibit macrophage-mediated phagocytosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLoS One 8(11):e80283.

Xu Y, Duan CH, Kuang ZZ, Hao YH, Jeffries JL, Lau GW. 2013. Pseudomonas aeruginosa Pyocyanin Activates NRF2-ARE-Mediated Transcriptional Response Via the ROS-EGFR-PI3K-AKT/MEK-ERK MAP Kinase Signaling in Pulmonary Epithelial Cells. PLoS One 8(8):e72528.

Zhu L, Kuang Z, Wilson BA, Lau GW. 2013. Competence-independent activity of pneumococcal EndA mediates degradation of extracellular DNA and NETs and is important for virulence. PLoS One;8(7):e70363.

Zhu L, Lau GW. 2013. Therapeutic potential of the Streptococcus pneumoniae competence regulon. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther 11(3):227-9.

Hao Y, Kuang Z, Xu Y, Walling BE, Lau GW. 2013. Pyocyanin-induced mucin production is associated with redox modification of FOXA2. Respiratory Research; 14(1):82.

Duan C, Zhu L, Xu Y, Lau GW. 2012. Saturated alanine scanning mutagenesis of the pneumococcus competence stimulating peptide identifies analogs that inhibit genetic transformation. PLoS One 7(9):e44710.

Hao Y, Kuang Z, Walling BE, Bhatia S, Sivaguru M, Chen Y, Gaskins HR, Lau GW. 2012. Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyocyanin causes airway goblet cell hyperplasia and metaplasia and mucus hypersecretion by inactivating the transcriptional factor FoxA2. Cell Microbiol 14(3):401-15.

Kuang ZZ, YH Hao, SH Hwang, S Zhang, E Kim, HT Akinbi, MJ Schurr, RT Irvin, DJ Hassett and Lau GW. 2011. The flagella of Pseudomonas aerugniosa mediate resistance to SP-A-mediated membrane permeabilization by multiple mechanisms. Mol Microbiol 79:1220-1235.

Kuang Z, Hao Y, Walling BE, Jeffries JL, Ohman DE, Lau GW. 2011. Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase provides an escape from phagocytosis by degrading the pulmonary surfactant protein-A. PLoS One 6(11):e27091.

Zhu L, Lau GW. 2011. Inhibition of competence development, horizontal gene transfer and virulence in Streptococcus pneumoniae by a Modified competence stimulating peptide. PLoS Pathogens 7(9):e1002241.

Hassett DJ, Korfhagen TR, Irvin RT, Schurr MJ, Sauer K, Lau GW, Sutton MD, Yu H, Hoiby N. 2010. Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm infections in cystic fibrosis: insights into pathogenic processes and treatment strategies. Expert Opin Ther Targets 14(2):117-30.

Cheluvappa R, Denning GM, Lau GW, Grimm MC, Hilmer SN, Le Couteur DG. Pathogenesis of the hyperlipidemia of Gram-negative bacterial sepsis may involve pathomorphological changes in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. 2010. Int J Infect Dis 14(10):e857-67.

Caldwell CC, Chen Y, Goetzmann HS, Hao Y, Borchers MT, Hassett DJ, Young LR, Mavrodi D, Thomashow L, Lau GW. 2009. Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin pyocyanin causes cystic fibrosis airway pathogenesis. Am J Pathol 175(6):2473-88.

Wesselkamper SC, Eppert BL, Motz GT, Lau GW, Hassett DJ, Borchers MT. 2008. NKG2D is critical for NK cell activation in host defense against Pseudomonas aeruginosa respiratory infection. J Immunol 181(8):5481-9.

Platt MD, Schurr MJ, Sauer K, Vazquez G, Kukavica-Ibrulj I, Potvin E, Levesque RC, Fedynak A, Brinkman FS, Schurr J, Hwang SH, Lau GW, et al. 2008. Proteomic, microarray, and signature-tagged mutagenesis analyses of anaerobic Pseudomonas aeruginosa at pH 6.5, likely representing chronic, late-stage cystic fibrosis airway conditions. J Bacteriol 190(8):2739-58.

Zhang S, McCormack FX, Levesque RC, O'Toole GA, Lau GW. 2007. The flagellum of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is required for resistance to clearance by surfactant protein A. PLoS One 2(6):e564.

Heo YJ, Chung IY, Choi KB, Lau GW, Cho YH. 2007. Genome sequence comparison and superinfection between two related Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages, D3112 and MP22. Microbiology 153(Pt 9):2885-95.

Kong F, Young L, Chen Y, Ran H, Meyers M, Joseph P, Cho YH, Hassett DJ, Lau GW. 2006. Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyocyanin inactivates lung epithelial vacuolar ATPase-dependent cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator expression and localization. Cell Microbiol 8(7):1121-33.

Borchers MT, Harris NL, Wesselkamper SC, Zhang S, Chen Y, Young L, Lau GW. 2006. The NKG2D-activating receptor mediates pulmonary clearance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Infect Immun 74(5):2578-86.

Yoon SS, Coakley R, Lau GW, Lymar SV, Gaston B, Karabulut AC, et al. 2006. Anaerobic killing of mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa by acidified nitrite derivatives under cystic fibrosis airway conditions. J Clin Invest 116(2):436-46.

Zhang S, Chen Y, Potvin E, Sanschagrin F, Levesque RC, McCormack FX, Lau GW. 2005. Comparative signature-tagged mutagenesis identifies Pseudomonas factors conferring resistance to the pulmonary collectin SP-A. PLoS Pathog 1(3):259-68.

Lau GW, Hassett DJ, Britigan BE. 2005. Modulation of lung epithelial functions by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Trends Microbiol 13(8):389-97.

Lau GW, Britigan BE, Hassett DJ. 2005. Pseudomonas aeruginosa OxyR is required for full virulence in rodent and insect models of infection and for resistance to human neutrophils. Infect Immun 73(4):2550-3.

Lau GW, Ran H, Kong F, Hassett DJ, Mavrodi D. 2004. Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyocyanin is critical for lung infection in mice. Infect Immun 72(7):4275-8.

Lau GW, Hassett DJ, Ran H, Kong F. 2004. The role of pyocyanin in Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Trends Mol Med 10(12):599-606.

Ran H, Hassett DJ, Lau GW. 2003. Human targets of Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyocyanin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100(24):14315-20.

Lau GW, Goumnerov BC, Walendziewicz CL, Hewitson J, Xiao W, Mahajan-Miklos S, Tompkins RG, Perkins LA, Rahme LG. 2003. The Drosophila melanogaster Toll pathway participates in resistance to infection by the Gram-negative human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Infect Immun 71(7):4059-66.

Lau GW, Haataja S, Lonetto M, Kensit SE, Marra A, Bryant AP, McDevitt D, Morrison DA, Holden DW. 2001. A functional genomic analysis of type 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence. Mol Microbiol 40(3):555-71. 

Lau G, Hamer JE. 1996. Regulatory Genes Controlling MPG1 Expression and Pathogenicity in the Rice Blast Fungus Magnaporthe grisea. Plant Cell 8(5):771-781.

Lau GW, Chao CT, Ellingboe AH. 1993. Interaction of genes controlling avirulence/virulence of Magnaporthe grisea on rice cultivar Katy. Phytopathology 83: 375-382.


We acknowledge the generous previous and current funding from NIH (NIAID, NHLBI), American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, USDA and industries.

Honors and Awards

  • Travel Award. American Thoracic Society 100 International Conference. Assembly on Microbiology, Tuberculosis and Pulmonary Infections (MTPI) (2004)
  • American Lung Association Desouza Research Award (2011)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Arnold O Beckman Research Award (2011)
  • UIUC College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Helen Kruger Research Excellence Award (2012)
  • Teacher Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2013)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Society for the Advancement of Science

Service Activities

  • Manuscript review (2005-present): 

    PNAS, PLoS Pathog, PLoS Genet, PLoS One, J Immunol, Mol Microbiol, Cell Microbiol, Trends Microbiol, Eur Respir J, J Leukoc Biol, Infect Immun, J Bacteriol, Microbiology, Int J Microbiol, Respir Med, Free Radic Biol Med, Biophysics J, Inflam Res, Respiration, J Proteomics and Genomic Res, Tumor Biology, Photochem Photobiol, J Applied Microbiol, Cell Biochem Funct, Toxicologic Pathology, etc.

  •  Editorial duty (2012-present):
    • 2012-present. Editorial board: ISRN Genetics, Clinical Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Allergy Drugs, Open J Biophysics.
    • 2015-present. Consulting Editor, International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  •  Grant review (2006-present):
    • 2008 Ad hoc reviewer, Health Research Board, Ireland. 
    • 2008 Ad hoc reviewer, Health Research Council, New Zealand.
    • 2011 Special Emphasis Panel: RFA-AI-11-009, Targeting Resistance in Select Gram-negative Pathogens.
    • 2012, 2013, 2014. Ad hoc reviewer, Danish Council for Independent Research, Technology & Production Sciences.
    • 2012 Special Emphasis Panel: 2012/10 ZRG1 IDM-C (92) AREA: Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.
    • 2012 Special Emphasis Panel: 2012/10 ZRG1 F13-C (20) L-Fellowships: Infectious Diseases & Microbiology.
    • 2013, 2014, 2015. Review Panel Committee Member, Am. Lung Association, Senior Research Fellowship Applications.
    • 2013 Special Emphasis Panel: RFA-AI-13-019, ZAI-SM-M-J1 Drug Target Development and Validation for Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens.
    • 2015. Special Emphasis Panel. Topics in Bacterial Pathogenesis” study section -- ZRG1 IDM-B (80).
    • 2015. Reviewer, Committee on Cell & Developmental Biology, French National Research Agency.
    • 2008-present. Member, Research Advisory Committee, College of Veterinary Medicine, UIUC.
    • 2006-present. Reviewer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Board Grants.


Signature-tagged mutagenesis libraries of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus suis. Please direct your inquiry to Dr. Lau.

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