Ai Lab

Laboratory of Protein Engineering: Advancing Imaging, Therapeutics, and Diagnostics

The Ai lab specializes in protein engineering and employs interdisciplinary approaches, including biophysics, bioanalytical chemistry, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and optical imaging.

One of our main areas of focus is the development of molecular biosensors that provide insights into cellular and organismal signaling. We employ state-of-the-art techniques such as directed evolution, fluorescence imaging, bioluminescence imaging, synthetic chemistry, genetic screening, and mass spectrometry to unravel complex biological pathways related to redox biology, metabolism, and neuronal activity.

Furthermore, we explore the application of protein-based tools in live cells and rodent models to better understand pathophysiology and develop innovative therapies for conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. As an emerging direction, we are also working on the development of biosensors that can serve as self-wellness alert devices or diagnostics in resource-limited settings.

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Ai named UVA School of Medicine Pinn Scholar & promoted to full professor

Huiwang Ai has been selected as a Pinn Scholar for 2023-2026. The Pinn Scholars program is named in honor of Dr. Vivian Pinn who was a graduate of the UVA…

Paper on amber-emitting luciferase and immunobioluminescence imaging published in JACS

The paper by Ying, Yiyu, and several other co-authors on an engineered amber-emitting luciferase and in vivo immunobioluminescence imaging is now published in the ACS flagship journal, Journal of the American Chemical…

Paper on bioluminescent calcium imaging published in Nature Communications

The paper by Xiaodong, Yiyu, and several other co-authors on luciferase prosubstrates and red bioluminescent calcium indicators for imaging brain activity is now published in Nature Communications ().

Paper on UDP-GlcNAc sensors published in ACS Central Science

The paper by Zefan and Jing on fluorescent UDP-GlcNAc sensors is now published in the ACS flagship journal, ACS Central Science ().

Highly Cited Paper (top 1% in Chemistry)

As of 2020, our manuscript "Reaction-Based Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Hydrogen Sulfide Sensors" is a highly cited paper (in the top 1% of the academic field of Chemistry based on a…

Lab Location

Pinn Hall - Rm. 4013-4020, 1340 Jefferson Park Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22908