Zhao Lai, Ph.D.


Dr. Zhao Lai is the Director of the Genome Sequencing Facility (GSF) in the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (GCCRI) at University of Texas Health Since Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). She holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology with more than 15 years of extensive research experience, and have authored or coauthored 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. From then, she has acquired hands-on knowledge and expertise in high-throughput sequencing sample preparation, instrument operation, technology development, biological application, and associated basic bioinformatics studies. Dr. Lai was fascinated on the NGS technology development and applications, and decided to make a move to San Antonio Texas and lead the new established GSF in 2011.

At the GSF, Dr. Lai has been leveraging her experience toward establishing and managing internal and external collaborations in the strategic planning and execution of big and small sequencing projects and performed high-throughput sample preparation and large-scale sequencing (genome, transcriptome, exome, methylome, ChIP, small RNA, targeted genome). Under Dr. Lai’s leadership, with the data generated from the GSF, supported by the analytic and bioinformatics division at GCCRI, The NGS has quickly become essential for support of many predominately NIH funded projects at UTHSCSA, and the GSF has contributed significantly to the biomedical genomic research with more than 20 high impact publications, which Dr. Lai co- authored on some. In 2016, Dr. Lai was awarded $600,000 NIH Shared Instrument grant (S10) to purchase Illumina HiSeq 3000 to upgrade the sequencing platform in GSF.

Selected Publications

Peng Y, Lai Z, Lane T, Rao MN, Okada M, Jasieniuk M, O'Geen H, Kim R, Sammons RD, Rieseberg LH, C. Neal Stewart Jr. De novo genome assembly of the economically-important weed Conyza canadensis from integrated data obtained from multiple platforms of next-generation sequence data. 2014, Plant Physiol. 166(3): 1241-54

Dlugosch KM*, Lai Z*, Bonin A, Hierro J, Rieseberg LH. Allele Identification for Transcriptome-Based Population Genomics in the Invasive Plant Centaurea solstitialis. 2013, G3 (Bethesda), 3(2): 359-367 *Co-first author

Lai Z, Kane NC, Kozik A, Hodgins K, Dlugosch KM, Barker MS, Matvienko M, Yu Q, Pearl SA, Bell GD, Turner KG, Zou Y, Grassa C, Guggisberg A, Adams KL, Anderson JV, Horvath DP, Kesseli R, Burke JM, Michelmore RW, Rieseberg LH. Genomics of Compositae weeds: EST libraries, microarrays and evidence of introgression. 2012, Am. J. Bot. 99(2): 209-218.

Lai Z, Zou Y, Kane NC, Choi JH, Wang X, Rieseberg LH.Development of normalized cDNA libraries for 454 transcriptome sequencing. Population Genomics for the series 2012, Methods Mol. Bio. 888:119-33.

Lai Z, Kane NC, Zou Y, Rieseberg LH. Natural variation of gene expression analysis between wild & weedy populations of Helianthus annuus. 2008, Genetics 179: 1881-1890

Lai Z, Gross BL, Zou Y, Andrews J, Rieseberg LH. Microarray analysis reveals differential gene expression in hybrid sunflower species. 2006, Mol Ecol. 15(5), 1213-1227 (Cover)

Lai Z, Livingston K, Zou Y, Church SA, Knapp SJ, Andrews J, Rieseberg LH. Identification and mapping of SNPs from ESTs in sunflower. 2005, Theor. Appl. Genet. 111(8): 1532-1544

Lai Z, Nakazato T, Salmaso M, Burke JM, Tang S, Knapp SJ, Rieseberg LH. Extensive chromosomal repatterning and the evolution of sterility barriers in hybrid sunflower species. 2005, Genetics 171: 291-303

Lai Z, Ma W, Han B, Liang L, Zhang Y, Hong G, Xue Y. An F-box gene linked to the self-incompatibility (S) locus of Antirrhinum is expressed specifically in pollen and tapetum. 2002, Plant Mol. Biol. 50: 29-42

Director of Genome Sequencing Facility

Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute

Faculty Associate, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics


Ph.D., Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2000


Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute - 2.120,

UT Health San Antonio
8403 Floyd Curl Dr.
San Antonio, Texas 78229

Tel: (210) 562.9246

Email: laiz@uthscsa.edu