The Synthetic Biology group explores new avenues of genomic discovery based on biological engineering. Our work is catalyzed by the next generation of molecular reagents for manipulating genomes. We seek to improve existing genome editing tools, build new ones, and implement them in novel ways.
Using synthetic biology approaches, we can modify existing biological models in order to mimic desired disease states, or we can construct extremely unnatural biological states that directly answer new fundamental questions. Furthermore, through synthetic biology, we not only pursue basic biological inquiry, but also potential platforms for translational impact. In light of contemporary demonstrations for gene therapy and cell-based biologics, the relevance of synthetic biology for therapeutic directions has never been higher. An area of interest for us at the nexus of basic discovery and applications is re-engineering immune-associated portions of the genome.
Synthetic biology can also be used to create "designer" cells for industrial applications. In particular, we are interested in rationally engineering the genomes of human cells to turn them into highly productive factories for therapeutic biological molecules such as erythropoietin and insulin.