Maolin Lu, PhD, serves as an assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology at the Health Science Center at UT Tyler (HSC). Dr. Lu obtained her bachelor’s degree in biological engineering and her master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Xi’an Jiaotong University, a C9 League university in Xi’an, China. She finished her PhD in potochemical sciences at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, supervised by Ohio Eminent Scholar Dr. Peter Lu. Immediately after her graduation in 2015, she joined a world-class virology lab, the Walther Mothes Laboratory, at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Lu joined the HSC as a faculty member in June 2021. She immediately received the Mathilde Krim Phase II Award of $80,000 from The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). In September 2021, Dr. Lu received The UT System Rising STARs award of $250,000. The STARs program awards the best-qualified faculty and provides funding to help purchase state-of-the-art research equipment and make necessary laboratory renovations to encourage faculty members to perform their research at a UT-sponsored institution.
Dr. Lu has a strong research record in infectious diseases of HIV-1/AIDS and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and has published more than 20 peer-reviewed research papers and two invited reviews. She first-authored/corresponding-authored many high-profile articles published in Nature 2019, Cell Host & Microbe 2020, Nat Struct Mol Biol 2020 and J Virol 2020.
- What brought you to the Health Science Center at UT Tyler?
The Health Science Center at UT Tyler has numerous potential — especially since it’s alignment with UT Tyler and with a medical school on the horizon. The research at the health science center is thriving and there are lots of collaborative opportunities with other laboratories. During my interview in December 2020, when most of the U.S. was locked down, I felt very welcomed and grateful that other faculty members appreciated my research. I am grateful for the opportunity and support the HSC has given to me during a historically challenging time. I am privileged to be part of the fast-growing health science center.
- What are your interests in your field? Why are you passionate about this topic? Why is it important?
I have long-standing research interests in the fundamental understanding of pathogenesis and the spread of infectious diseases, along with the scientific exploration of vaccine and drug design. HIV-1/AIDS and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 are two of the most devastating pandemics in human history. My current research is focused on the molecular understanding of how HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses enter susceptible human cells and successfully evade the immune system from being recognized. Knowledge on this matter is at the core of designing AIDS and COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral therapies that prevent virus infection and spread.
- What is your favorite thing about East Texas?
I love my colleagues, tall pine trees and food (especially brisket) in East Texas. My family enjoys walking along the creek trail and at Tyler State Park.
- What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?
Be grateful for what you have.
- Who has influenced you the most in life?
My grandparents showed me many sides of a person: weakness, strength, sacrifice, perseverance, kindness and love. Their spirits are with me no matter where I am.