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Understanding and engineering biological networks using timelapse microfluidic microscopy

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Thiago Burghi.

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Synthetic biology is enabling us to harness the manufacturing power of biology. For example, we can engineer friendly microbes as factories for producing drugs, biofuels, etc., or use them for diagnostics or bioremediation. In this talk I will give a few examples of our attempts towards engineering reliable genetic circuits with reliable parts, such that they can be reliably deployed in natural settings for their operation. At a fundamental level, synthetic biology also enables us to truly “understand” biological systems in the Feynman standard (“What I cannot create, I do not understand”). The fundamental and applied side of synthetic biology are connected through this “understanding”. If we don’t understand biological systems enough, such that we could create it from its basic parts, then we cannot really claim to have “understood” the system. And until we have developed a detailed understanding of biological systems in nature, in terms of their operational principles, we cannot really make reliable synthetic biological systems with predictable operation. Towards this goal, we are developing different experimental and computational frameworks to characterize and analyze different parts of the natural gene-regulatory systems, and synthetic genetic circuits. This is enabling us to apply this reverse-engineering and forward engineering approach in several different problems, including the mysterious aging of symmetrically dividing bacteria, and how a drug tolerant microbe can become a drug resistant one. I will present a short summary of our progress in setting up these pipelines and platforms in the department, and their use in uncovering these mysteries.

This talk is part of the CUED Control Group Seminars series.

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