Chem Bio Seminar – Prof. Farren Isaacs (Yale University)

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1315 Seminar Hall
@ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Title: Biologically Inspired Engineering for Probing, Programming and Recoding Organisms



A defining challenge in synthetic biology is the development of high-throughput and automated methodologies for precise design and engineering of cells. To address these challenges, we develop multiplex genome engineering technologies for versatile genome modification and evolution of bacterial and eukaryotic cells. We use these technologies to create genetic variants to reveal a causal understanding of complex phenotypes as well as engineer pathways and recode genomes. These Genomically Recoded Organisms (GROs) contain alternative genetic codes, in which codons have been eliminated from the genome of E. coli. GROs exhibit improved properties for incorporation of nonstandard amino acids that expand the chemical diversity of proteins or polymers, establish genetic isolation and multi-virus resistance, and enable the engineering of GROs to depend on synthetic amino acids for robust biocontainment strategies. We have also developed new computational-experimental technologies – computer aided design of synthetic genetic elements (CAD-SGE) – that permits the redesign, expression, and mobilization of biosynthetic pathways in diverse organisms for the discovery of new metabolites. This work increases the toolbox for genomic and cellular engineering with broad applications for new classes of enzymes, materials, and therapeutics.



Dr. Farren Isaacs is Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Systems Biology at Yale University. His research lies at the interface of biology, chemistry, and engineering with a particular focus on the development of genome and biomolecular engineering technologies. His lab uses these technologies to construct organisms with alternative genetic codes and for global reprogramming of cellular behavior to uncover new biological phenomena. This research expands the functions of living systems with vast applications in biotechnology, materials science, environmental health, and medicine. Prior to starting his lab at Yale, Dr. Isaacs pioneered enabling technologies for genome and RNA engineering for probing and programming cellular function. He has been named a “rising young star of science” by Genome Technology Magazine, a Beckman Young Investigator by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and recipient of a Young Professor award from DuPont. Innovations from his lab have led to the formation of new biotechnology ventures including enEvolv (acquired by Zymergen, then Ginkgo), 64x Bio, Peter Bio, and Pearl Bio. He received his B.S.E. in in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering-Bioinformatics at Boston University, and conducted postdoctoral training in Genetics at Harvard Medical School.


Host: Prof. Tina Wang