Research Interests

Our research program applies protein engineering technologies to develop physiological molecular targeting agents for molecular diagnostics and targeted therapy, with a focus on oncology and infectious disease. We balance (1) fundamental study of molecular evolution and protein biophysics, which empowers our protein engineering efforts; and (2) application of these advances to develop non-invasive diagnostics and therapeutics for clinical challenges in oncology and infectious disease. Our research is highly interdisciplinary including scientists, engineers, and collaborators across Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering, Pharmacology, Chemistry, Oncology, Physiology, Medicinal Chemistry, Radiology, and more. We appreciate the support of the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the University of Minnesota, and biotechnology partners.


  • Institute for Engineering in Medicine Faculty Career Development Award
  • College of Science and Engineering Guillermo Borja Career Development Award
  • American Cancer Society Research Scholar

Selected Publications

  • Ritter, S.C., Hackel, B.J., "Validation and stabilization of a prophage lysin of Clostridium perfringens by yeast surface display and co-evolutionary models", App. & Exp. Microbio. 2019
  • Golinski, A.W., Holec, P.V., Mishler, K.M., Hackel, B.J., "Biophysical Characterization Platform Informs Protein Scaffold Evolvability", ACS Combinatorial Science 2019.
  • Stern, L.A., Lown, P., Kobe, A., Abou-Elkacem, L. Willmann, J.K., and Hackel, B.J., "Cellular-Based Selections Aid Yeast-Display Discovery of Genuine Cell-Binding Ligands: Targeting Oncology Vascular Biomarker CD276", ACS Combinatorial Science 2019.
  • Klesmith, J.R., Hackel, B.J., "Improved mutant function prediction via PACT: Protein Analysis and Classifier Toolkit" Bioinformatics. 2018.
  • Du, F., Kruziki, M.A., Zudock, E.J., Zhang, Y., Lown, P.S., Hackel, B.J., "Engineering an EGFR-binding Gp2 domain for increased hydrophilicity" Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2018.
  • Csizmar, C.M., Petersburg, J.R., Perry, T.J., Rozumalski, L., Hackel, B.J., Wagner, C.R., "Multivalent Ligand Binding to Cell Membrane Antigens: Defining the Interplay of Affinity, Valency, and Expression Density" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018.
  • Lai, P.K., Geldart, K., Ritter, S., Kaznessis, Y.N., Hackel, B.J., "Systematic mutagenesis of oncocin reveals enhanced activity and insights into the mechanisms of antimicrobial activity" Mol. Sys. Des. & Eng. 2018 6: 930-941.
  • Ritter, S.C., Yang, M.L., Kaznessis Y.N., Hackel B.J., "Multispecies activity screening of microcin J25 mutants yields antimicrobials with increased specificity toward pathogenic Salmonella species relative to human commensal Escherichia coli" Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2018 115: 2394-2404.
  • Kruziki, M.A., Sarma, V., Hackel, B.J., "Constrained Combinatorial Libraries of Gp2 Proteins Enhance Discovery of PD-L1 Binders" ACS Comb. Sci. 2018 20: 423-435.
  • Kim, M., Vala, M., Ertsgaard, C.T., Oh, S., Lodge, T.P., Bates, F.S., Hackel, B.J., "Surface Plasmon Resonance Study of the Binding of PEO-PPO-PEO Triblock Copolymer and PEO Homopolymer to Supported Lipid Bilayers" Langmuir. 2018 34: 6703-6712.
  • Case, B.A., Kruziki, M.A., Johnson, S.M., and Hackel, B.J., "Engineered charge redistribution of Gp2 proteins through guided diversity for improved PET imaging of epidermal growth factor receptor" Bioconj. Chem. 2018 29: 1646-1658.
  • Csizmar C.M., Petersburg J. Hendricks A., Stern L.A., Hackel B.J., and Wagner CR, "Engineering reversible cell-cell interactions with lipid anchored prosthetic receptors" Bioconj. Chem. 2018 29: 1291-1301.
Ben Hackel in Lab


Phone: 612/624-7102

Office: 356 Amundson Hall

Research Group

Support Ben Hackel's Research

  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Radiology, Stanford University, 2009-2011