The Synthetic Biology and Cellular Control lab works on two broad topics: synthetic biology (design and construction of novel cellular devices in living cells, to alter and control their behaviour) and systems biology (the dynamics and behaviour of cells and cellular networks). To date, our own wet lab work is exclusively in microorganisms (bacteria and yeast), and we are pursuing mammalian cell work through collaboration. * Synthetic biology. The rapidly growing field of synthetic biology represents an effort to implement engineering at the cellular level. We are developing novel regulatory network architectures and new biological “parts” to accomplish a variety of goals. Often our work takes the form of simple proof-of-concept demonstrations, but we are increasingly interested in the potential of synthetic biology to (eventually!) address real-world issues. We are actively engaging with private and public sector partners to learn about key problems that we can use as inspiration for our research direction. Examples of applied projects include efforts at developing systems to: detect disease microorganisms and respond to counter them; develop robust microorganism-based biosensors for blood assays; and engineer metabolic pathways for better production of useful biological products. * Systems biology. Our experimental work is accompanied and guided by modelling at various levels, from detailed biochemical kinetic models (stochastic or deterministic) to higher-level approaches inspired by control theory. However, no individual student is required to be involved in the math/computational side! Within-lab collaborations can be arranged, where one student works entirely on experiments while teaming with someone with a modelling focus.
Increasing the efficiency of bacterial transcription simulations: when to exclude the genome without loss of accuracy.Iafolla MA, Dong GQ, McMillen DR. BMC Bioinformatics 2008;9:373 pubmed
Plasmid-borne prokaryotic gene expression: sources of variability and quantitative system characterization.Bagh S, Mazumder M, Velauthapillai T, Sardana V, Dong GQ, Movva AB, Lim LH, McMillen DR. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 2008 Feb;77(2 Pt 1):021919 pubmed
Effects of protein maturation on the noise in gene expression.Dong GQ, McMillen DR. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 2008 Feb;77(2 Pt 1):021908 pubmed
Dark proteins: effect of inclusion body formation on quantification of protein expression.Iafolla MA, Mazumder M, Sardana V, Velauthapillai T, Pannu K, McMillen DR. Proteins 2008 Sep;72(4):1233-42 pubmed