Dr. Lara Urban

Helmholtz Pioneer Campus Principal Investigator (HPC)

Molecular Biology and AI in the context of Planetary Health
PI at Helmholtz Pioneer Campus and Helmholtz AI

Contact Details

Business card at TUMonline

Academic Career and Research Areas

In 2019, Lara obtained her PhD from EMBL-EBI and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, where she worked on statistical and quantitative approaches in cancer and single-cell genetics. As an independent Research Fellow in New Zealand funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Lara then combined this expertise with her background in ecology, and applied genomics and machine learning in the context of nature conservation. After two years, she received a Helmholtz Principal Investigator Starting Grant at the German Research Center for Environmental Health and at the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus to start her own research group.

As suggested by the Rockefeller Foundation and Lancet Commission on planetary health, human and planetary health are inextricably linked. Lara’s research group at Helmholtz AI and the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus focuses on the application of Molecular Biology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the context of planetary health. The group leverages genomics and AI to study the diversity and distribution of bioaerosols and their impact on human health, pioneers portable genomic and data analysis approaches for in situ real-time detection and classification of pathogen, and tries to improve monitoring of zoonotic diseases, in the context of both, animal health/biodiversity conservation and global health.


  • Young Scientist of the Year 2022, awarded by the German Association of University Professors/academics, and invitation to the German Gala of Science (2023)
  • Recipient of Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2019)
  • Recipient of International EMBL PhD Fellowship (2015)
  • Awards for Distinction in Bachelor and Master, and Award for Outstanding Master's thesis (2013 & 2015)
  • Recipient of Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation Scholarships for Bachelor and Master studies (2010 & 2013)

Cheng, H., (...), Urban, L., (...)., Li, H.: "Robust haplotype-resolved assembly of diploid individuals without parental data". Nature Biotechnology. 2022.


Urban, L., (…), Stammnitz, M. R.: "Freshwater monitoring with nanopore sequencing". eLife. 2021; 10:e61504.


Oberle, A. & Urban, L., (…), Feichtinger, M.: "16S long-read nanopore sequencing is feasible and reliable for endometrial microbiome analysis". Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2021; 10:1016.


PCAWG Transcriptome Core Group (incl. Urban, L.), (...), Zhang, Z.: "Genomic basis for RNA alterations revealed by whole- genome analyses of 27 cancer types". Nature. 2020; 578, 129–136-


Linker, S. & Urban, L., (…), Bonder, M. J.: "Combined single cell profiling of expression and DNA methylation reveals splicing regulation and heterogeneity." Genome Biology. 2019; 20:30.