Chain Reaction Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory

Stemloop is developing a platform for inexpensive and rapid detection of pathogens and heavy metals in water. Our technology re-purposes the natural sensing machinery of microorganisms into easy-to-use formats for widespread testing and surveillance of health threats.


Khalid K. Alam is the Founder and CEO of Stemloop, an early stage biotechnology company developing biosensors for public health applications. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and graduate certificate in Life Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Missouri and continued his training as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University’s Center for Synthetic Biology. While at Northwestern, Khalid led the development of cell-free biosensor technologies that are now being commercialized at Stemloop. He was recently recognized for his work with a 40 Under 40 Chicago Scientists award and an ORISE fellowship through the Department of Energy’s Lab Embedded Entrepreneurship Program, awarded to sponsor the early stage development of Stemloop. Khalid also helped co-found and now advises ChiTownBio–a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing equitable access to biotechnology for all Chicagoans.

Julius Lucks, Cofounder, earned a degree in Chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill, a masters in theoretical chemistry from Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar and a Doctorate in Chemical Physics from Harvard University as a Hertz Fellow. As a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley, Julius developed the widely used SHAPE-Seq technology for the high-throughput interrogation of RNA structure. He started the Lucks Laboratory for RNA Engineering at Cornell University before being recruited to Northwestern University’s Center for Synthetic Biology, where he serves as an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. In recent years he has received recognition as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar, and won awards including NSF CAREER, NIH New Innovator, Office of Naval Research New Investigator, DARPA Young Faculty, and ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator. Recently, Professor Lucks was a finalist for the 2020 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. His laboratory is focused on revealing the molecular principles that enable biological systems to sense and adapt to changing environments and to understand how to use these principles to engineer synthetic biological systems that benefit humanity.

Michael Jewett, Cofounder, is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. Jewett’s cell-free technologies have created new routes toward on-demand synthesis of medicines, expanding the chemistry of life, portable molecular diagnostics and education kits. Dr. Jewett is the recipient of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Camille-Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, Life Sciences Category, among others. He received his PhD in 2005 at Stanford University, completed postdoctoral studies at the Center for Microbial Biotechnology in Denmark and the Harvard Medical School, and was a guest professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). He has authored more than 100 publications and is the founder of four companies. Professor Jewett was also recently named to the National Academy of Inventors.