Mohammed El-Kebir

Mohammed El-Kebir
Mohammed El-Kebir
Assistant Professor
(217) 333-0135
3216 Siebel Center for Comp Sci

For More Information


  • Ph.D., Computer Science, VU University Amsterdam and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), 2015
  • M.S., Bioinformatics, VU University Amsterdam, 2010
  • M.S., Computer Science and Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, 2009
  • B.S., Computer Science and Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, 2006


El-Kebir received his PhD in Computer Science at VU University Amsterdam and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (2015) under the direction of Jaap Heringa and Gunnar Klau. He did postdoctoral training with Ben Raphael at Brown University and Princeton University (2014-2017). In 2018, he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science. El-Kebir has affiliate faculty appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Institute of Genomic Biology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He received the National Science Foundation CISE Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) Award in 2019 and the CAREER Award in 2021.

El-Kebir's main research is in combinatorial optimization algorithms for problems in computational biology, with a particular focus on cancer genomics. Among his major contributions are advances in the theoretical foundations of cancer phylogenetics (e.g., hardness proofs for phylogeny estimation problems from mixture data), methods for the estimation of cancer phylogenies from sequencing data of tumors, and new mathematical models for studying cancer evolution and metastasis.

El-Kebir's current focus is on developing methods that enable the estimation of cancer phylogenies from single-cell sequencing data. A specific challenge he is addressing is the integration of data obtained from the same tumor using distinct single-cell technologies. Another focus is the development of comprehensive evolutionary models for somatic mutations that occur at varying genomic scales. More generally, El-Kebir is developing novel problem statements and corresponding methods to analyze omics data in novel ways, thereby improving scientific discovery.

Academic Positions

  • Assistant Professor (affiliate), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Institute of Genomic Biology, 2018-Present
  • Assistant Professor (affiliate), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2018-Present
  • Assistant Professor (affiliate), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, National Center of Supercomputing Applications, 2018-Present
  • Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Computer Science, 2018-Present
  • Postdoc, Princeton University, Department of Computer Science, 2016-2017
  • Postdoc, Brown University, Department of Computer Science, 2015-2016

Research Interests

  • Combinatorial optimization and its applications to cancer and infection genomics

Selected Articles in Journals

Articles in Conference Proceedings

Journal Editorships

  • Proceedings of the 21st International Workshop on Algorithms in Bioinformatics, WABI 2021, August 2–4, 2021, Virtual Conference. Edited by Alessandra Carbone and Mohammed El-Kebir. 10.4230/LIPIcs.WABI.2021.0

Conferences Organized or Chaired

  • Co-organizer National Cancer Institute (NCI) Spring School on Algorithmic Cancer Biology, March 13-19, 2023
  • Area co-chair for 'General Computational Biology' at Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) / European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB) 2021, ISMB 2022 and ISMB/ECCB 2023
  • Co-organizer of Cancer Evolution workshop at Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (PSB) 2022.
  • Program Committee co-chair, Workshop on Algorithms in Bioinformatics (WABI) 2021

Professional Societies

  • Member of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SBME), 2022 - present
  • Member of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2018 - present
  • Member of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2018 - present
  • Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2018 - present
  • Member of International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), 2012 - present

Other Outside Service

  • Program Committee Member: RECOMB-Comparative Genomics, (RECOMB-CG, 2021-2023)
  • Program Committee Member: Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB, 2020-2023)
  • Program Committee Member: Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference (GLBIO, 2019, 2021, 2023)
  • Program Committee Member: Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology (ISMB 2019-2023)
  • Program Committee Member: International Symposium on Mathematical and Computational Oncology (ISMCO, 2019-2021)
  • Program Committee Member: Workshop on Algorithms in Biology (WABI, 2019, 2021-2023)
  • Program Committee Member: RECOMB-Computational Cancer Biology, (RECOMB-CCB, 2019, 2020, 202, 2023)
  • Program Committee Member: ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics (ACM-BCB, 2018-2022)
  • Program Committee Member: Computational Intelligence methods for Bioinformatics and Biostatistics (CIBB, 2017, 2019)
  • Program Committee Member: European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB, 2016, 2019)
  • Reviewer for several journals (Nature Communications, Nature Cancer, Genome Biology, PLOS One/CB, Bioinformatics, Genome Research, etc.)

Research Honors

  • National Science Foundation's CAREER Award (2021)
  • Young Investigator Award by Netherlands Bioinformatics and Systems Biology research school (2015)

Improvement Activities

  • Collins scholar program (graduation April, 2019)

Recent Courses Taught

  • CS 466 - Introduction to Bioinformatics
  • CS 591 BIO - Bioinformatics and Computation
  • CS 598 MEB - Computational Cancer Genomics