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University of Illinois




Michael La Frano

Dr. La Frano is the Director of Metabolomics & Proteomics at the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His initial work will focus primarily on the expansion of untargeted and targeted LC-MS methods, as well as creation of new data processing, QA/QC, and analysis programs. His independent research focuses on biomarkers of disease, as well as nutritional metabolomics. He is an Affiliate of the Personalized Nutrition Initiative at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Affiliate Member of the metabolomics Quality Assurance and Quality Control Consortium (mQACC).

Dr. La Frano earned a Ph.D. in Nutrition Biology at the University of California, Davis in 2012. Subsequently, his postdoctoral fellowship role was as a pilot project scientist for West Coast Metabolomics Center (WCMC) NIH Pilot & Feasibility Project studies where he performed targeted metabolomics analysis as part of the Lipid Mediators. These data were combined with WCMC untargeted analyses to support various biomedical studies. In 2016, he joined the faculty at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and was later promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. He also served as Director of the Cal Poly Metabolomics Service Center, which he founded in 2019.


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Assistant Director

Alexander Ulanov 

Dr. Ulanov is currently serving as the Assistant Director of this facility. He has over 20 years experience in metabolomics and has developed dozens of LC-MS and GC-MS methods, both for targeted and untargeted metabolomics. His research interests include clinical biomarkers, personal metabolomics, and metabolome imaging. Dr. Ulanov earned a Ph.D. in Biology at the Kazan Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Russian Academy of Sciences and a M.Sc. in Plant Physiology at Kazan State University, Kazan, Russia prior to that. He was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before joining the Metabolomics Core of Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a Metabolomics Bioinformatics Specialist in 2007. 

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Research Specialist

Wei Liu

Wei Liu has been a research specialist in the Metabolomics Core Facility since 2019. She is experienced in chromatography (HPLC, TLC, LC-MS, GC-MS), has developed methods for and extracted a variety of sample matrices including those derived from animals, humans, and plants, is proficient in processing MS data, and has performed programming with R and Python. Her background includes earning a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Tongji University. She has been a laboratory scientist at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign since 2008, beginning in the Food and Bioprocess Engineering Division of the Department of Agricultural Biological Engineering.

Research Specialist

Anna Taylor

Dr. Taylor recently began as a research specialist in the Metabolomics Core Facility in 2023. She is experienced in the use of LC-MS for both small and large molecules. Dr. Taylor earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in Analytical Chemistry.

Graduate Researcher

Ketaki Gujar

M.S. Information Management student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Key contributions: Bioinformatics


Student Researcher

Carolina Seone

B.S. Bioengineering student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Key contributions: Sample and data processing


Student Researcher

Manita Akhlak

B.S. Biochemistry student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Key contributions: Sample and data processing