Zhao Lai, Ph.D.
Rank: Assistant Professor/Research
Department: Molecular Medicine
Dr. Zhao Lai is Director of Genome Sequencing Facility (GSF) in the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (Greehey CCRI) at UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Lai holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology with more than 20 years of extensive research experience and has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Lai was a research scientist as Functional Genomics Unit Leader in The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University, where she started to use next-generation sequencer from Roche 454 to Illumina Genome Analyzer and HiSeq platforms. While leading the Functional Genomics team, and managing large-scale next-generation sequencing (NGS) activities of an NSF grant, Dr. Lai has acquired hands-on knowledge and expertise in high-throughput sequencing sample preparation, instrument operation, technology development, biological application, and associated basic bioinformatics studies.
- NGS technology development and applications
Dr. Lai was fascinated by the NGS technology development and applications and decided to lead the newly established GSF in GCCRI at UT Health San Antonio in 2011. At the GSF, she oversees the operational activities of the GSF, including project budgeting and coordination, equipment purchase and maintenance, hiring, training, and the supervision of staff scientists. Dr. Lai has actively developed and maintained effective communication skills with project investigators, scientists, and students from experimental design through subsequent data interpretation of experiments. She leveraged her experience to establish and manage internal and external collaborations with high-throughput sample preparation and large-scale sequencing (genome, transcriptome, exome, methylome, ChIP, small RNA, targeted genome, metagenomics).
Under her leadership, the data generated from the GSF, supported by the analytic and bioinformatics division at GCCRI, the NGS has quickly become an essential tool for support of many predominately NIH and CPRIT funded projects at UT Health San Antonio, and the GSF has contributed significantly to the biomedical genomic research with many high impact publications. In 2016, Dr. Lai received a $600,000 NIH Shared Instrument grant (S10) to purchase Illumina HiSeq 3000 to upgrade the sequencing platform of GSF.
Dawn Garcia, MS
Technical Director, Research Core Facility
Korri Sue Weldon, BS
Senior Genomics Technologist