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  • 01/2022 - Folks in the press noticed our recent article in Cell:2021,184(22):5670-5685. It was highlighted in UNC Health Care News and the Royal Institute of Australia's Cosmos Magazine selected it as one of the "Top 10 Science Videos of 2021."
  • mingyu-choi-fig1-F31 10/2021 - The Hahn and Elston Labs published a paper in Cell entitled “Biosensors based on peptide exposure show single molecule conformations live cells.” It describes a new approach that simplifies biosensor engineering and produces a bright signal capable of reporting the conformation of single molecules within living cells. This was a team effort on many levels, with three lead authors – Bei Liu, Orrin Stone and Mike Pablo, and important contributions from lab members Cody Herron, Ana T. Nogueira, Onur Dagliyan, and our collaborators from Janelia – Jonathan Grimm and Luke Lavis. The online only version is available through November at Bei Liu, et al. Cell, 2021:Oct 11;.
  • 7/2021 – Dr. Hahn is part of a group of researchers funded by the Sloan Foundation to develop ‘living materials’, groups of cells and artificial systems that are engineered to change their shape in response to diverse stimuli. The group includes PIs with a focus on molecular modeling, cell biology, systems biology and protein structure.
  • mingyu-choi-fig1-F31 3/2021 - Hats off to Mingyu Choi for winning an NSF fellowship. Mingyu will study how podosomes test the mechanical properties of their environment, and how they regulate phagocytosis. He will develop analogs of adhesion proteins that control and report tension in podosome components, to examine signal oscillations thought to coordinate podosome behavior.
  • 1/2021 – Dr. Hahn and Dr. Gaudenz Danuser of UTSW were awarded a Bioengineering Research Grant from the National Cancer Institute to invent and apply novel technologies for untangling complex signaling circuits in cancer. They will combine biosensors, optogenetics and new analytical methods to understand how protein activities are linked in real time during  migration and metastasis.
  • 7/2020 - Congratulations to Joe Szulczewski, who was just accepted into the Lineberger Cancer Center Model Systems training program. Joe will be studying mechanical stresses on the cell that drive durotaxis and metastasis.
  • Two GEF protein ribbon structures with arrows pointing where fluorescent biosensors are inserted to create a RhoGEF biosensor and a GTPase biosenor, an image of each of the biosensors and two diagrams to describe the extent to which each GEF contributes to the activation of a specific GTPase in regulating cell movement. Through analysis of spontaneous cell protrusion events, they identify when and where the GEF Asef regulates the GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1 to control cell edge dynamics. This approach exemplifies a powerful means to elucidate the real-time connectivity of signal transduction networks. 7/2020 - We are fired up about a new paper led by Dan Marston. Thanks to everyone who brought this together, and to Dean E. Natwick & Sean R. Collins for their discussion in the Nature Chem Bio highlight entitled “Decoding GEFs of animated cells.” The paper describes a new biosensor approach for studying GEFS, developed together with the Sondek lab, and applies it in multiplexed imaging of GEF and GTPase signaling. The data is analyzed by the Danuser lab (our long term collaborators at UTSW) using a statistical approach to dissect out causal links between different protein activation events in living cells (Nat Chem Biol, 16: 826–833, 2020; free sharing link). Way to go, Dan!
  • 7/2020 - Congratulations to Mingyu Choi, who was accepted into the MiBio training program at UNC. He will interact with a community of scientists using diverse methods in mechanistic, interdisciplinary studies of biological systems. Mingyu will be studying oscillating signaling circuits and how they drive immune cell function.

  • 11/2019 - We’re happy to celebrate the graduation of Dr. Frank Teets! Frank will be a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Protein Innovation, Harvard University. Congratulations, Frank!
  • 10/2019 - Our frustrated phagocytosis image received honorable mention in the The Nikon Small World Competition! Congrats to Ana, Shiqiong and Takashi!

  • 05/2019 - iPalm of frustrated phagocytosis, taken by Ana Nogueira, Shiqiong Hu, and Takashi Watanabe with our good friends at the @AICjanelia.
  • 11/2018 - Klaus was nominated for the Pearse Prize from the Royal Microscopy Society. He is scheduled to present a plenary lecture and receive the award in England this July.
  • 7/2018 - Here's wishing best of luck to Neha Kaul, who will be an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the NSF Engineering Directorate!
  • 5/2018 - Congratulations and much luck to Doctor Orrin Stone, now PhD. Orrin developed a new method to ‘see’ the conformations of individual molecules in living cells, and engineered a genetically encoded optogenetic analog of cofilin. Orrin will be an Associate with McKinsey & Co. in July.
  • 3/2018 - Congratulations to Mihai Azoitei, who has accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Duke University in the the Department of Medicine and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute! We wish him all the best in his new position!
  • 3/2018 - A new wave of talent has arrived! Welcome to our three newest postdocs - Shiqiong Hu, Ana Nogueira and Fred Pimenta.
  • 2/2018 - We bid a fond farewell to Hui Wang as he takes on a new position as a Research Scientist with Arcellx, who develop biological treatments for cancer.
  • 12/2017 - Congratulations to Nick Pinkin for receiving a Leader Development Award from the American Chemical Society! This award recognizes emerging leaders in their profession and helps them prepare for leadership opportunities in the ACS and their professional careers. Dan will participate in the ACS Young Chemists Committee Leadership Development Workshop in January.
  • Congratulations to Bei and Orrin for winning the Best Poster Awards at the Annual Pharmaoclogy Research Retreat! 11/2017 - Congratulations to Bei Liu and Orrin Stone for winning the Best Poster Award at the Annual Pharmaoclogy Research Retreat!
  • 6/2017 - Congratulations to Orrin Stone for receiving an NIH ImPACT fellowship, enabling him to intern at a Research Triangle pharmaceutical company. Orrin is also attending Bridge to BCG, a 3-day workshop for PhDs interested in consulting.
  • 4/2017 - Hats off to Onur Dagliyan. Our recent paper (Engineering extrinsic disorder to control protein activity in living cells) just had write ups in Biotechniques, Nature Methods and Cell Systems. You can catch it in: Science 354:1441-1444. Onur describes the attachment of engineered domains to the surface of proteins to confer control by light or small molecules.
  • 11/2016 - Our thanks to the Biophysical Society have provided Mihai Azoitei with a travel award to attend the annual Biophysical Society meeting.
  • Mihai Azoitei, recipient of UNC Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates 2016 11/2016 - Here's to Mihai Azoitei, who just won the UNC Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates!
  • 8/2016 - Congratulations to Nick Pinkin who has received an NIH F32 postdoctoral fellowship!
  • Bei Liu and Hui Wang move new spin TIRF/photo-activation microscope! 8/2016 - Bei Liu and Hui Wang transport our new spin TIRF/photo-activation microscope, constructed with Rich Superfine at his lab, to its new home.
  • 7/2016 - Congratulations to Jason Yi, who has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University! We wish him all the best in his new position!
  • 5/2016 - We bid farewell to Chris MacNevin, who is taking a position at NIRvana Sciences, a startup developing novel fluorophores and FACS technologies. Much luck and happiness to Chris!
  • Onur Dagliyan successfully defends his PhD! 3/2016 - Congratulations to our Dr. Onur Dagliyan, here celebrating his new PhD. Onur is moving to his postdoc with Michael Greenburg at Harvard!
  • 3/2016 - Hui Wang is invited to present a platform talk at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, focused on his work in optogenetics. The talk is titled, “LOV and Zdark, a protein pair that dimerize selectively in the dark, provide a versatile optogenetic toolbox.”
  • 3/2016 - Dr. Hahn and Dr. Patti Keely of U. Wisconsin were awarded an NIH R01 grant to study the role of the cancer microenvironment in controlling migration of metastatic cells.
  • Onur Dagliyan wins Lineberger Fellow Award 10/2015 - Congratulations to Onur Dagliyan for receiving the Lineberger Fellow Award, whose $5000 prize enabled him to upgrade his wheels.
  • 9/2015 - First light on Bei Liu's home-designed single particle tracking scope!
  • 8/2015 - Advanced Imaging Center at Janelia Call for Proposals July 31-Oct. 1, 2015. Selected proposals will allow a scientist to spend 1-2 weeks (or more) at Janelia to conduct experiments on a microscope with the support of the AIC team. AIC microscopes have advanced capabilities that are not widely available. The Janelia Visitor Program will cover the cost of lodging for the visiting scientist, experiments, technical support from their applications scientists and scope time.
  • 7/2015 - Welcome to Nick Pinkin, our new postdoctoral fellow who has joined the lab to develop novel dyes for in vivo single molecule imaging.
  • 6/2015 - Congratulations to Denis Tsygankov on his new position as Assistant Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University!
  • 1/2015 - Welcome to Bei Liu, who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to extend biosensor imaging with single particle tracking, super resolution imaging and cryo-EM.
  • 12/2014 - Contratulations to Denis Tsygankov for receiving the 2015 UNC Junior Faculty Development Award and publishing 6 papers this year!
  • 12/2014 - Orrin Stone and his research is highlighted in UNC School of Medicine News. Click on the link to see his story, "Platform for Proteins". Orrin's research is focused on developing a simple, engineered domain that can be inserted into proteins to confer either light sensitivity or produce fluorescent biosensors. He is focused on adhesion dynamics and signaling.
  • 12/2014 - Hui Wang was invited to present a platform talk at the 2014 American Society for Cell Biology Meeting. He spoke re "Resonator motifs in mechano-chemical signaling pathways revealed by a new optogenetic method for precise oscillation of signaling circuits."
  • Marie Rougie wins Star Heel Award 6/2014 - Marie Rougie, our lab manager and imaging guru, receives the 2014 Star Heel Award. In this surprise award, she was recognized by UNC and our department for her outstanding service.
  • 4/2014 - Congratulations to Sheryl Fuehrer for being awarded a Future Scientists and Clinicians fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for her undergraduate research.
  • 2/2014 - Klaus and Channing Der receive joint funding from the National Cancer Institute to study the role of Rho family effectors in pancreatic cancer.
  • Pei-Hsuan Chu gets her Ph.D.! 10/2013 - Congrats and much luck to Pei–Hsuan Chu, who just received her PhD and moved to the NIH to work with Dr. David Gerhold (NCATS).
  • 10/2013 - Klaus will be heading a program project award, working with John Sondek (UNC), Keith Burridge (UNC), Gaudenz Danuser (UTSW) and Alan Hall (Sloan Kettering) to study GEF/Rho GTPase signaling circuitry. We are grateful to the NIH for funding in these times when scientists are struggling to support their work.
  • 10/2013 - Klaus and Dr. Brian Kuhlman have received an NIH R01 award to pursue a new research direction – control of epigenetic modifications using light.
  • 10/2013 - Congrats to Hui Wang, who has received funding from the Arthritis Foundation to elucidate the signaling pathways of inflammatory processes.
  • 10/2013 - Congrats to Chris MacNevin, who was invited to present his work at the International Chemical Biology Society in Kyoto Japan, as part of a special session on chemical imaging.
  • 8/2013 - Michael Guarino, who worked with us as an undergraduate, completed his degree in computer science. We are grateful for his computational models that provided unexpected insights into biosensor design, and how different designs contribute to perturbation of biological systems. Michael has moved on to a full time position at Amazon. We wish him much luck and all the best in his new career.
  • 8/2013 – Welcome to Mihai Azoitei, who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to engineer GEF biosensors using novel screening and computational modeling approaches.
  • 8/2013 – Welcome to Matt Weitzman, who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to look at the organization of signaling proteins during cell migration, and how membrane composition impacts events at the leading edge.
  • Amy and Klaus toast at Amy's graduation party. 5/2013 – Welcome to Neha Kaul, who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to work on microtubule dynamics, targeted intracellular transport and post translational modifications of tubulin.
  • 04/2013 - Congratulations to Chris MacNevin (at right in picture), who placed second for his research poster entitled "The small molecule based biosensor CaMbio reports calmodulin activation dynamics in cells and in vivo." The 3rd Annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium Postdoctoral Research Poster Forum was held Friday, April 19 at UNC. The forum provides an opportunity for fellows to hear inspiring stories presented by previous Nobel Prize winners and to highlight their current research. The poster presentations followed the keynote speech by Dr. Harold E. Varmus.
  • 04/2013 - Denis Tsygankov was invited to give a platform talk on “Dissecting kinase-mediated pathways with temporal and spatial control of their activation” at the Moscow Conference on Computational Molecular Biology.
  • 04/2013 - Welcome to Andrey Krokhotin, who just joined our lab and the lab of Nikolay Dokholyan to work on our collaborative project controlling Rho family GTPase networks with light.
  • 02/2013 - Onur Dagliyan and Hui Wang presented platform talks at the Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, Onur on “Rational design of protein conformational switch”, and Hui on “LOV-TRAP: A broadly applicable, genetically encoded system to control protein activity with light through controlled sequestration at membranes.”
  • 12/2012- Hui Wang and Andrei Karginov are invited to speak at the 2012 American Society for Cell Biology meeting, describing their work on photomanipulation, and engineered allosteric control of proteins in living cells.
  • Amy and Klaus toast at Amy's graduation party. 10/2012- Amy Hsu becomes Dr. Hsu - an impressive and amazing transformation on Halloween. Amy is leaving for her new haunts at the NIH.
  • 8/2012- Onur Dagliyan has been awarded an MCC Travel Grant of $1000 to attend "Exploring Protein Interactions through Theory and Experiements" on 2012-09-24.
  • 8/2012- Onur Dagliyan wins a Howard Hughes International Research Fellowship to work on new methods to control protein activity in vivo using engineered allosteric regulation. Congratulations to Onur!!
  • Dr. Janet Doolittle and Dissertation Committee 7/2012- Goodbye and much luck to Janet Doolittle, who just struck a triple play. Within one month she received the American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship, graduated with her PhD, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the NextGen Oral Health program at UNC. She will be studying viral pathogenesis in the laboratory of Dr. Webster-Cyriaque.
  • 7/2012- Klaus and Anna Huttenlocher of U. Wisc., Madison receive a multiPI grant from the NIH to develop a live cell imaging ‘toolchest’ for zebrafish research, focusing on photomanipulation, engineered allosteric activation and biosensors in studies of EMT.
  • 7/2012- Klaus, Claire Doerschuck and Keith Burridge receive a multiPI grant from the NIH to study transendothelial migration in animals using multiplexed biosensors and Rho family photoactivation.
  • 6/2012- Congratulations to Jason Yi, invited to lecture at the 36th meeting of the American Society for Photobiology in Montreal, Canada, on techniques for controlling cell physiology with light.
  • 6/2012- Scott Slattery receives American Heart Association fellowship to study the role of the cytoskeleton in transendothelial migration. Scott will be developing new approaches to control one signaling molecule while monitoring another in vivo.
  • Andrei's goodbye hat 5/2012- Farewell to Andrei and congratulations. Good luck as a new Assistant Professor at the U. of Illinois - Chicago.
  • 3/2012- Klaus is selected by the medical students to present their Pharmacology review lecture for the national boards.
  • 4/2012- Best wishes and congratulations to Richard Allen, who is joining Pfizer in Cambridge as a senior scientist.
  • 4/2012- Our work with light-activated proteins is highlighted in an article in Nature Methods on "Direct protein control."
  • 2/2012 - Klaus is funded by the Autism Speaks foundation to pursue our discovery of  signaling pathways underlying autism.
  • 2/2012- Congratulations to Jason Yi, who received an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein postdoctoral fellowship for his proposal examining the role of protein dynamics in autism.
  • 12/2011- Congratulations to Oana Lungu for becoming a Doctor! Oana is on her way to U. Texas–Austin Chemical Engineering Dept. for postdoctoral studies with George Georgiou.
  • Pei-Hsuan wins best poster award at Pharmacology research retreat11/2011- Pei-Hsuan Chu wins first place in the poster contest at our Pharmacology annual retreat. Her poster describes the role different Src isoforms play in cell motility, and activation and inhibition of Src isoforms with light.
  • 9/2011- We make the cover of Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology for our review article on imaging multiple signaling activities in living cells, by Chris Welch, Hunter Elliott, Gaudenz Danuser and Klaus.
  • 7/2011- Chris Welch receives his PhD for his work studying the control of cell polarity by GTPase trafficking. He is given a ‘high pass’, a rare distinction at UNC. Chris is returning to UNC Med for the clinical portion of his MD/PhD training.
  • 7/2011- Welcome to Onur Dagliyan who is joining our lab as a grad student. Onur will  be jointly mentored by Klaus and Nikolay Dokholyan, applying computational approaches for new methods to quantify endogenous protein activity.
  • 7/2011- Farewell and much happiness to Jianrong Wu, who leaves the lab to become a Research Scientist at Intel in Arizona.
  • 6/2011- Welcome to Li Li who is joining the lab as a postdoc, using FLIM and correlation analysis to examine GTPase trafficking.
  • 6/2011- Congratulations to Hui Wang for receiving an Arthritis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, for studies on transendothelial migration using novel methods to control protein function with light.
  • 6/2011- Congratulations to Ellen O’Shaughnessy for receiving a Lineberger Cancer Center Fellowship to work on quantitative models of cancer signaling in a project bridging our lab, the Elston lab and the Der lab at UNC.
  • 6/2011- Welcome to Ellen O’Shaughnessy who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to develop quantitative models of signaling pathways regulating cancer motility.
  • 5/2011- Congratulations-Jason Yi is named the Christina Castellana Postdoctoral Fellow of the Foundation of Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics.
  • Christopher Welch receives Joseph S. Pagano Award 2/2011- Congratulations to Christopher Welch who has received the Joseph S. Pagano Award from the Lineberger Cancer Center for his graduate thesis studies, including a $5000 cash prize.
  • 2/2011- Congratulations to Oanu Lungu, invited to give a Young Investigator talk at the Protein Society Annual Meeting, focused on our collaboration with Brian Kuhlman to develop caged peptides using computational modeling of the LOV domain.
  • 1/2011- Congratulations to Andrei Karginov, whose poster on engineered allosteric control of kinases was selected for a presentation at the Keystone Conference “Evolution of Protein Kinases.”
  • 10/2010- Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology names our work one of the “Ten breakthroughs of the decade” in their 10th anniversary issue, highlighting our work with biosensors and photoactivatable proteins.
  • 10/2010- Nature Methods highlights our work with rapid allosteric activation.
  • 9/2010- Our lab is funded to work with the NIH Protein Structure Initiative  to study “Assembly, dynamics and evolution of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions.”
  • 8/2010- Klaus, Haruo Kasai and Brian Kuhlman receive a grant from the Human Frontiers in Science Program to develop “Optogenetics for small G-proteins and protein kinases in neuroscience.”
  • 8/2010- Congratulations to Eric Vitriol, who is taking his new PhD to Emory, where he will be doing postdoctoral work in the Zheng lab.
  • 7/2010- "The Scientist" highlights our work illuminating cell mobility using light to activate Rac proteins.
  • 7/2010- Congratulations to Chris MacNevin on being awarded an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • 7/2010- Farewell and heartfelt wishes for success to Yi Wu as he leaves to become an Assistant Professor at the U. of Conn. Medical School.
  • 7/2010- Congratulations-Jason Yi is Awarded a Fellowship from the Carolina Institute of Developmental Disabilities.
  • 7/2010- Welcome to Scott Slattery who is joining the lab as a postdoc. Scott will work on high throughput and high content analysis of signaling behavior, and combining photomanipulation and sensing of signaling pathways.
  • 7/2010- Congratulations to Akash Gulyani who received a UNC Post-Doctoral Mentoring Award for his work with undergraduate students developing new fluorescent dyes.
  • 7/2010- Farewell and much luck to Jon Zawistowski, who is leaving to become a Research Assistant Professor in the Johnson lab here at UNC.
  • 5/2010- Welcome to Janet Doolittle who is joining the lab as a grad student to study transendothelial migration.
  • 5/2010- Welcome to Jason Yi who is joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow to apply biosensors to pathways important in autism.
  • 5/2010- Yi Wu is invited to present at the “Science at the Interface Symposium”, U.  Chicago.
  • 3/2010- Congratulations to Chia-Wen Hsu who presented her work on novel dyes and biosensors for studying endogenous proteins at the 8th International Student Seminar, Kyoto University, Japan.
  • 2/ 2010- Congratulations to Yi Wu, invited to present his work on optogenetics of GTPase proteins at the High Content Analysis meeting, San Francisco.
  • 2/2010- Klaus joins UNC Bioinformatics and Computational Biology curriculum.
  • 2/2010- Klaus is named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 1/2010- Chia-Wen Hsu visits and presents  at the Institute of Biology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. 
  • 10/2009- Klaus is awarded an NIH Transformational Roadmap Award with Gaudenz Danuser to study “Quantitative imaging of signaling networks.”
  • 9/2009- We publish back to back papers in Nature! One is with Gaudenz Danuser, developing and applying new methods to study the coordination of multiple GTPases in living cells, and the second demonstrates the control of Rac1 by light in living cells using a new optogenetics approach capable of ‘caging’ cytosolic proteins. 
  • 6/2009- Farewell to Professor Jung Weon Lee who returns to Seoul U., Korea, after a 2 year visit to our lab.
  • 5/2009- Congratulations to Christopher Welch,  invited to present at the Symposium on Adhesion and Migration in Inflammation.
  • 3/2009- Welcome to Richard Allen who is joining the lab as a postdoc, jointly mentored by Klaus and Tim Elston. Richard is developing new image analysis methods and associated quantitative models of signaling dynamics.
  • 3/2009- Christopher Welch is invited to present at the Annual MD/PhD student conference organized by Keystone and NIGMS.
  • 3/ 2009- We are issued a patent on our live cell biosensor technologies: US 7,592,188.
  • 3/2009- Congratulations to Oana Lungu for her American Heart Association Graduate Student Fellowship, focused on studies of adhesion dynamics using photocontrol of adhesion proteins.
  • 1/2009- Welcome to Chris MacNevin who is joining the lab as a postdoc. Chris will work on development of biosensors for endogenous proteins in a collaboration with Stephen Frye at UNC.
  • 2009- Congratulations to Christopher Welch who has received an NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship Award from the NIH.
Klaus Hahn

Klaus Hahn, Ph.D.
Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology

NIH Biosketch - 06-2023

Betsy Clarke
Betsy Clarke, M.Ed.
Web Manager


Brian Chavis

Brian Chavis
Research Technician



Mingyu Choi

Mingyu Choi
Graduate student



Saygin Gulec

Saygin Gulec
Graduate Student


Lihua He

Lihua He, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor


Megan Kern

Megan Kern
Graduate Student


UNC Old WellGabe Kreider-Letterman, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow



Liz McInnis
Liz McInnis
Graduate Student



Vairaprakash PothiappanVairaprakash Pothiappan, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow


Joseph SzulczewskiJoseph Szulczewski, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow



Pengning XuPengning Xu, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow



Carolina Old WellYu Yan, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow



Future Postdoc

Future Postdoctoral Fellow, Graduate Student or Tech


Hahn Lab at Bei's birthday lunch 2018.
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