The sequencing of the human genome in 2001 was a milestone for science. However, the origins of most diseases and developmental processes remain obscure. It is now clear that beyond the genetic code there is a wealth of information stored in the dynamic organization of nuclear structures. This “epi-genetic” information controls how genes are accessed and expressed and is often misregulated in disease; yet, so far there have been few ways to synthetically read, write, and engineer it.
Drawing upon interdisciplinary approaches in engineering, biology, and physics our lab develops molecular technologies to expand and unlock new ways to control, understand, and harness chromatin. These technologies will enable researchers and engineers to manipulate features of chromatin, such as it’s biochemistry and 3-dimensional structure, in highly defined and specific ways. These technologies can be used to reveal the mechanisms of developmental transitions and diseases. In addition, they can be exploited to create synthetic “biological circuits” useful in applications such as antibody production and cancer-killing cells. Epigenetic control is a fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of cell biology; the ability to control its properties will unlock discovery and therapeutic opportunities in many areas of biology, medicine, and biotechnology.
Focus Areas – Synthetic Biology, Neural and Stem Cell Engineering, Bioengineering
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