We’re thrilled to introduce SPORT, a computational protein design strategy for adjusting reconstitution propensity to fall into the sweet spot for your application. Congratulations to Taylor, Jon, Will, Elizabeth, Alex, and our excellent and key collaborators Srivatsan Raman and Tony Meger. This exciting and collaborative work involved a lot of hard work on both the experimental and computational efforts, and is an exciting step in split protein optimization for a wide array of applications! Check out our preprint here!
Dario Robleto returns to Northwestern as the new Artist-at-Large, working with faculty all over campus to discuss the implications of their research on society and ethics. Several professors in the Center for Synthetic Biology, including Josh Leonard, Danielle Tullman-Ercek, and Julius Lucks, are featured in a video about the collaboration.
To learn more about this exciting, and thought provoking collaboration, check out the video here!
The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition named Josh a 2019 Researcher to Know. Read more here.
We’re thrilled to share a new toolkit for mammalian synthetic biology: the COMET library of synthetic transcription factors, promoters, and accompanying models. Congratulations to Patrick, Joseph, Joe and Hailey and our key collaborator Neda Bagheri! This is true tour-de-force many years in the making, and we’re excited to share this with the community! Check out our preprint here, and follow some twitter discussion here.
Josh Leonard’s commentary was featured in a news article in Chemical & Engineering News in July featuring synthetic biologist Martin Fusseneger’s menthol-triggered insulin-producing cells. Josh commented saying the work is “an important first step”, as it was the first time a gene circuit was made entirely from human parts.
Find the full news article here.
The Block Museum of Art hosted “Exploring Ethics: Across Art, Humanities, and Science”, a public event that provided researchers in various fields and artists a platform to share their experiences in encountering, raising, and answering new ethical questions as well as engage with the public on these topics. The event featured Northwestern synthetic biologists Danielle Tullman-Ercek, Julius Lucks, and Josh Leonard, as well as Artist-at-Large Dario Robleto and professor of medical education and anthropology Megan Crowley Matoka. Discussions ranged from capturing the ethics of science as art to engage two separate fields and the public, how to best get research to the point of need, and the cultural and ethical impact of organ transplant donation.
See the press release about the event here.
The conference took place from May 17th-19th on Northwestern University’s campus and brought in researchers from around the world with over 150 in attendance. The first ever pre-conference workshop tutorial series took place on Friday, May 17th, providing an open forum for those new to and experienced in mammalian synthetic biology to ask questions to experts about topics such as sensing, cell signaling and differentiation, gene expression, and protein engineering, with professors Julius Lucks, Leonardo Morsut, Tara Deans, and Danielle Tullman-Ercek leading the discussions. Saturday and Sunday featured talks from experts in mammalian synthetic biology such as Linda Griffith, Melody Swartz, Ron Weiss, Martin Fussenegger, and many more. Leonard Lab member Devin Stranford gave a talk on her extracellular vesicle research and its applications to treating HIV. Additionally, Leonard Lab members Joe Muldoon, Taylor Dolberg, Patrick Donahue, Alex Prybutok, Kate Dray, Joseph Draut, Brandon Lim, Vis Kandula, Parth Shah, and Anthony Kang presented posters at the poster session on Saturday evening. Sunday’s talks concluded with a panel discussing the broader ethical implications and impacts of synthetic biology research, featuring Artist-at-Large Dario Robleto, bioethicist Laurie Zoloth, and historians Ben Hurlbut and Gaymon Bennett. Josh was presented with a commemorative plaque for helping organize and host the conference, which will take place by the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
See the full press release about the conference here.
Congratulations to Vis Kandula, who received the “Outstanding Presenter” award at this year’s Stanford Undergraduate Research Conference, which took place from April 5-7. Of the 400 participants that applied from around North America, 80 individuals were accepted to present their research projects ranging from topics about experimental life sciences to quantitative social sciences. Vis was selected as an Outstanding Presenter in the experimental life sciences category.
Northwestern and the Center for Synthetic Biology will host the inaugural Central US Synthetic Biology Workshop on Sep 6-7, 2018. The goal of this event is to create a recurring workshop that brings together synthetic biology researchers and companies from institutions in the Central US. Visit the workshop site and read more here: www.centralsynbio.org
Our new collaborative project, which is joint with Neda Bagheri, will develop new experimental and computational tools for designing and building robust cell-based therapies. This project was funded in the first round of the NIH’s new synthetic-biology-specific funding mechanisms. Read more here, and a related article released by the Chicago Biomedical Consortium here.
This is the highest teaching award conferred by Northwestern University. Read more at the two stories below:
Taylor and Patrick co-authored a commentary on recent progress in engineering cell therapies for cancer, including perspectives on exciting recent innovations in this space. Read more here.
Abbvie senior scientist Mikkel Algire highlights technologies for engineering cell-based therapies for cancer. Read more here.
This collaboration with the Nguyen and Schatz labs decribes the development of highly stable and stimuli/pH-responsive ultra-small polymer-grafted nanobins (usPGNs) as candidate nano-scale drug delivery vehicles. Read more here.
This chapter was published as part of an issue of Methods in Molecular Biology dedicated to the study and therapeutic use of Extracellular RNA. Read more here.
This study, published in Protein Engineering, Design, and Selection, reports the BERDI method for engineering novel metabolite-responsive biosensors, for applications ranging from metabolic engineering to fundamental research. Read more here.
Joseph’s research is highlighted in an article featuring undergraduate summer research. Read more here.
This review discusses both recent advances and emerging general principles for using mammalian synthetic biology to build cell-based therapies that are safe and effective. Read more here.
This chapter summarizes key strategies and challenges associated with studying and harnessing EV-mediated transfer for therapeutic applications, while providing contemporary perspectives on how choices of systems design and analysis method may impact the efficacy of EV-based therapies and the interpretation of EV-based investigations. Read more here.
Kelly’s thesis research was profiled in a feature in Northwestern’s Alumni Magazine
Josh was selected to join the Scientific Executive Committee of GP-Write, a multinational synthetic biology project dedicated to realizing whole genome synthesis in order to understand, engineer and test living systems.
This paper marks the first demonstration that MESA receptors can be multiplexed to function orthogonally in a single cell. We also report here, for the first time, a quantitative model for evaluating and ultimately designing new MESA receptors and new MESA-based technologies. Read more here.
Congrats to Devin! Read more here.
Held at the Norris University Center on March 24-25, the Engineering Biology Research Consortium brought together nearly 170 faculty, researchers, and students from universities across the country to discuss current challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology: Sensing with modular receptors
Matthew Brenner, Jang Hwan Cho and Wilson W Wong
Sensing and responding to diverse extracellular signals is a crucial aspect of cellular decision-making that is currently lacking in the synthetic biology toolkit. The development of modular receptor platforms allows for the rewiring of cellular input-output relationships.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News ran the following press article:
Image by Joshua Leonard and Kelly Schwarz, Northwestern University. Cell image by NIAID/NIH, used and modified under Creative Commons 2.0 license.
Congrats to Kelly, Nickey, and Taylor, whose paper was published today in Nature Chemical Biology! This paper is currently spotlighted on the homepage of NCB: http://www.nature.com/nchembio/index.html
Our research was featured in an interview with Josh in Cancer Cytopathology, for a special feature on synthetic biology technologies for treating cancer (Nov 2016) [link]
Josh is now the Co-Director of Northwestern’s NIH-funded Predoctoral Biotechnology Training Program
As part of President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, Josh will be an invited conferee at a meeting focused on “Systems and Synthetic Biology for Designing Rational Cancer Immunotherapies” in October.
Josh is interviewed and Michelle’s research is featured in a Science Magazine technology feature on extracellular vesicles. Read more here:
Congratulations to Michelle who recently published her 2nd first author publication in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles! Read it here
Wells et al. paper highlighted in Northwestern McCormick Engineering News! Read More
Hung et al. was one of the most viewed JBC articles published in March and April! Check out the article! Pubmed
Congratulations to Ragan Pitner and Andy Scarpelli for their recent paper in ACS Synthetic Biology! Get it here ACS
Congratulations to Michelle Hung for her recent paper in JBC! Pubmed
Congratulations to Danny Wells and Yishan Chuang for their recent paper in PLOS Computational Biology. Read it here Pubmed
Congratulations to Nichole Daringer and Kelly Schwarz for their recent paper in JBC! Get it here JBC
Congratulations to Rachel Dudek, Yishan Chuang, and Josh Leonard for publishing in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology! Read it here Pubmed
Congratulations to Michelle Hung on her first first author research article! Read More
Daringer et al. paper highlighted in the Society for Biological Engineering Connections E-Newsletter Read More
Research featured on Northwestern’s Office for Research Discovery website Read More
NU Synthetic Biology highlighted on university home page Read More