Confirmed Speakers

Yaakov Benenson (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)

Benenson_photo The Benenson group engineers synthetic biological circuits that control and manipulate living cells. The circuits comprise modules common to all control systems: sensors, processors (computers) and actuators. Unlike traditional electromechanical devices, all these modules are built of biological molecules and operate inside live mammalian cells.
Potential applications of these circuits include complex real-time measurements in single cells, disease diagnostics and treatment with single-cell resolution, and cell ‘reprogramming’.

William E. Bentley (University of Maryland, USA)

Bentley_photo The Bentley lab is deciphering and manipulating signal transduction pathways and the regulation of genetic circuits during applied stresses, including those of bacterial communication networks (quorum sensing), for altering cell phenotype. The group is also engaged in a multidisciplinary effort to create system that serve to bridge the communication gap between biology and electronic microfabricated devices — developing new methods for localizing DNA, proteins, cells and cell assemblies onto devices that will serve to break down complexities so that discoveries can be attributed to specific molecules, gradients, patterns.

Paul Dupree (University of Cambridge, UK)

Dupree_photo The research of the Dupree group involves using biochemical and microbiological techniques in conjunction with mass spectrometry based technologies to study the structure, synthesis, and trafficking pathways of the wall of plant cells. Many fundamental aspects of plant cell wall structure and function, and the enzymes responsible for its synthesis are still largely a mystery. In addition, the complex polysaccharides produced by plants are utilized around the globe in countless commercial and industrial processes from the textile industry, agriculture, building materials, paper products and more.

Tom Ellis (Imperial College London, United Kingdom)

Ellis_photo The Ellis Lab is actively involved in advancing foundational synthetic biology, developing the tools for rapid, predictable engineering of biological devices and systems; and applying synthetic biology to a variety of different biotechnology research areas.
A major focus of the lab is studying the construction of regulatory networks and improving methods to assemble complex genetic devices in cells.

Martin Fussenegger (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)

Fussenegger_photo The Fussenegger group is working on the interface with biopharmaceutical manufacturing, gene therapy and tissue engineering to transfer advances in biotechnology to human therapy.
From a systems perspective, human disease originates from perturbations of endogenous expression or signaling networks. Currently available therapeutic strategies include administration of small-molecule drugs or biopharmaceuticals, reprogramming of genetic deficiencies using gene-transfer technologies, and implantation of engineered cells or synthetic tissues. Focusing on mammalian cells and capitalizing on an integrated interdisciplinary systems approach, the group implements progress in basic research to achieve generic and prototypic advances in human therapy.

Clyde A. Hutchison III (J. Craig Venter Institute, USA)

Hutchinson_photo Clyde Hutchison's laboratory has carried out investigations on biological systems ranging from bacteriophage to mice. The unifying theme has been a continuing search for improved methods to learn about gene function from DNA sequence information. The group has been involved in genomics since before the advent of modern DNA sequencing. Clyde and Marshall Edgell dissected the genome of phage phiX174 with restriction enzymes in the 1970's, and Clyde was a member of the team in Fred Sanger's lab that sequenced the phiX174 genome; the first DNA molecule completely sequenced. Since that time he has been interested in a variety of problems in viral, bacterial, and mammalian genomics.

Jay D. Keasling (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Keasling_photo The research in the Keasling Laboratory focuses on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for degradation of environmental contaminants or for environmentally friendly synthesis. To that end, the group has developed a number of new genetic and mathematical tools to allow more precise and reproducible control of metabolism. These tools are being used in such applications as synthesis of biodegradable polymers, accumulation of phosphate and heavy metals, and degradation of chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons, biodesulfurization of fossil fuels, and complete mineralization of organophosphate nerve agents and pesticides.

Sarah E. O’Connor (The John Innes Centre, United Kingdom)

OConnor_photo The O’Connor Group investigates how plants and plant pathogens produce complicated molecules from simple metabolic building blocks.
Plants produce hundreds of thousands of complex metabolites that are used clinically to treat a wide variety of diseases. Despite the importance of these compounds, it remains unclear how most of these complicated molecules are made. A major focus in the group is to elucidate, understand, and engineer biosynthetic pathways so as to fully harness the wealth of compounds and biocatalysts that plants have provided.

Sven Panke (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)

Panke_photo The research of the Panke laboratory revolves around the design of novel bioprocesses for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. They address fundamental issues in biocatalyst discovery, biocatalyst engineering and process engineering. This includes, in the framework of our activities in synthetic biology, our work towards the transfer of more and more engineering concepts into the world of bio”engineering”, with the ultimate goal of converting biotechnology from a discovery science into a true engineering discipline.

Christopher Voigt (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)

Voigt_photo The Voigt lab is developing a basis by which cells can be programmed like robots to perform complex, coordinated tasks for pharmaceutical and industrial applications, engineering new sensors that give bacteria the senses of touch, sight, and smell. Genetic circuits – analogous to their electronic counterparts – are built to integrate the signals from the various sensors. Finally, the output of the gene circuits is used to control cellular processes. This is combined with the development of theoretical tools from statistical mechanics and non-linear dynamics to understand how to combine genetic devices and predict their collective behavior.

Lingchong You (Duke University, USA)

You_photo Synthetic gene circuits that can precisely program cellular behavior have great potential for applications in biotechnology, computation, environmental engineering and medicine. However, constructing synthetic gene circuits with reliable, non-trivial function is extremely difficult. The You lab is using a combination of experimental and computational techniques to explore general and scalable control strategies that will allow for the realization of robust gene circuit function despite cellular noise and external perturbations.

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