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Nicholas C. Wu

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Research Interests

Research Topics

Immunology, Virology, Molecular Evolution, Protein Structure, Bioinformatics

Disease Research Interests

Infectious Diseases

Research Description

The Wu lab focuses on three research questions:

  1. What are the constraints of virus evolution?
  2. Can we predict antibody specificity?
  3. Can we improve the quality and speed of vaccine design?

The Wu lab addresses these questions mainly in the context of influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2, using molecular virology, protein biochemistry, next-generation sequencing, high-throughput assays, x-ray crystallography, cryo-EM, and machine learning.


Postdoc, The Scripps Research Institute, 2020
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2015
B.S., University of Virginia, 2010

Awards and Honors

Viruses Early Career Investigator Award (2022)
UIUC MCB Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (2022)
ASV Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award (2022)
Searle Scholar Award (2022)
Michelson Prize (2021)
ESWI Young Scientist Innovative Award (2021)
NIH Director's New Innovator Award (2021)
NIH Pathway to Independence Award (2019)
Croucher Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2017)

Highlighted Publications

Lei R*, Kim W*, Lv H*, Mou Z*, Scherm MJ*, Schmitz AJ, Turner JS, Tan TJC, Wang Y, Ouyang WO, Liang W, Rivera-Cardona J, Teo C, Graham CS, Brooke CB, Presti RM, Mok CKP#, Krammer F#, Dai X#, Ellebedy AH#, Wu NC#. Leveraging vaccination-induced protective antibodies to define conserved epitopes on influenza N2 neuraminidase. Immunity 56:2621-2634.e6 (2023)

Tan TJC, Mou Z, Lei R, Ouyang WO, Yuan M, Song G, Andrabi R, Wilson IA, Kieffer C, Dai X, Matreyek KA, Wu NC. High-throughput identification of prefusion-stabilizing mutations in SARS-CoV-2 spike. Nature Communications 14:2003 (2023)

Ouyang WO*, Tan TJC*, Lei R, Song G, Kieffer C, Andrabi R, Matreyek KA, Wu NC. Probing the biophysical constraints of SARS-CoV-2 spike N-terminal domain using deep mutational scanning. Science Advances 8:eadd7221 (2022)

Lei R, Tan TJC, Hernandez Garcia A, Wang Y, Diefenbacher M, Teo C, Gopan G, Tavakoli Dargani Z, Teo QW, Graham CS, Brooke CB, Nair SK, Wu NC. Prevalence and mechanisms of evolutionary contingency in human influenza H3N2 neuraminidase. Nature Communications 13:6443 (2022)

Wang Y*, Yuan M*, Lv H, Peng J, Wilson IA, Wu NC. A large-scale systematic survey reveals recurring molecular features of public antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2. Immunity 55:1105-1117.e4 (2022)

(*co-first, #co-corresponding)

Recent Publications

Lei, R., Qing, E., Odle, A., Yuan, M., Gunawardene, C. D., Tan, T. J. C., So, N., Ouyang, W. O., Wilson, I. A., Gallagher, T., Perlman, S., Wu, N. C., & Wong, L. Y. R. (2024). Functional and antigenic characterization of SARS-CoV-2 spike fusion peptide by deep mutational scanning. Nature communications, 15(1), Article 4056.

Tan, T. J. C., Verma, A. K., Odle, A., Lei, R., Meyerholz, D. K., Matreyek, K. A., Perlman, S., Wong, L. Y. R., & Wu, N. C. (2024). Evidence of antigenic drift in the fusion machinery core of SARS-CoV-2 spike. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 121(15), Article e2317222121.

Wu, N. C., & Ellebedy, A. H. (2024). Targeting neuraminidase: the next frontier for broadly protective influenza vaccines. Trends in Immunology, 45(1), 11-19.

Daulagala, P., Mann, B. R., Leung, K., Lau, E. H. Y., Yung, L., Lei, R., Nizami, S. I. N., Wu, J. T., Chiu, S. S., Daniels, R. S., Wu, N. C., Wentworth, D., Peiris, M., & Yen, H. L. (2023). Imprinted Anti-Hemagglutinin and Anti-Neuraminidase Antibody Responses after Childhood Infections of A(H1N1) and A(H1N1)pdm09 Influenza Viruses. mBio, 14(3).

Lei, R., Kim, W., Lv, H., Mou, Z., Scherm, M. J., Schmitz, A. J., Turner, J. S., Tan, T. J. C., Wang, Y., Ouyang, W. O., Liang, W., Rivera-Cardona, J., Teo, C., Graham, C. S., Brooke, C. B., Presti, R. M., Mok, C. K. P., Krammer, F., Dai, X., ... Wu, N. C. (2023). Leveraging vaccination-induced protective antibodies to define conserved epitopes on influenza N2 neuraminidase. Immunity, 56(11), 2621-2634.e6.

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