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Synthetic Biology

WEBINAR

Only

Synthetic Biology Approaches to Improve Human and Environmental Health

Wednesday, November 18 - Thursday, November 19, 2020 EST

Virtual Symposium

Presented By

The New York Academy of Sciences

 

Synthetic Biology holds tremendous promise to revolutionize our understanding of the origins of life, the mechanisms underlying myriad biological processes, human diseases and critical environmental issues that threaten the planet. With the advent of 21st century molecular biology techniques, including rapid and inexpensive genomic sequencing as well as methods that allow precise genetic modification, scientists have an unprecedented ability to harness biological processes to efficiently produce a wide variety of desirable chemicals. These include complex drugs, biofuels, biomaterials and sustainable food products that have the potential to transform our quality of life.  This two-day symposium will convene experts in gene editing, artificial cells, genomics and chemical biology to discuss how advances in synthetic biology can positively influence human and environmental health.

Call for Abstracts

Abstract submissions are invited for a poster session and short talks. For complete submission instructions, please visit our online portal. The deadline for abstract submission is Friday, October 2, 2020.

Registration

Member
$60
Nonmember Academia, Faculty, etc.
$130
Nonmember Corporate, Other
$170
Nonmember Not for Profit
$130
Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
$90
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow
$30
Member
$30
Nonmember Academia, Faculty, etc.
$65
Nonmember Corporate, Other
$85
Nonmember Not for Profit
$65
Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
$45
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow
$15
Member
$30
Nonmember Academia, Faculty, etc.
$65
Nonmember Corporate, Other
$85
Nonmember Not for Profit
$65
Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
$45
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow
$15

Speakers

Angela Belcher, PhD
Angela Belcher, PhD

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ethan Bier, PhD
Ethan Bier, PhD

University of California San Diego

Jef Boeke, PhD
Jef Boeke, PhD

NYU Langone School of Medicine

James Carothers, PhD
James Carothers, PhD

University of Washington

Michelle Chang, PhD
Michelle Chang, PhD

University of California Berkeley

James Collins, PhD
James Collins, PhD

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Farren Isaacs, PhD
Farren Isaacs, PhD

Yale School of Medicine

Wendell Lim, PhD
Wendell Lim, PhD

University of California San Francisco

Julius B. Lucks, PhD
Julius B. Lucks, PhD

Northwestern University

Stephen Mayfield, PhD
Stephen Mayfield, PhD

University of California San Diego

Michelle O'Malley, PhD
Michelle O'Malley, PhD

University of California Santa Barbara

Petra Schwille, PhD
Petra Schwille, PhD

Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Smita Shankar, PhD
Smita Shankar, PhD

Impossible Foods

Reshma Shetty, PhD
Reshma Shetty, PhD

Gingko Bioworks

Pamela Silver, PhD
Pamela Silver, PhD

Harvard Medical School

Christina Smolke, PhD
Christina Smolke, PhD

Stanford University

Scientific Organizing Committee

Irene Chen, PhD

University of California San Barbara

Neal Devaraj, PhD

University of California San Diego

Farren Isaacs, PhD

Yale University

Neha Kamat, PhD

Northwestern University

Alexis Komar, PhD

University of California San Diego

Reshma Shetty, PhD

Ginkgo Bioworks

Jenifer Costley, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Sara Donnelly, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Sonya Dougal, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Wednesday

November 18, 2020

10:30 AM

Introduction and Welcome Remarks

10:40 AM

Keynote Presentation: Harnessing Synthetic Biology to Fight Pathogens

Speaker

James Collins, PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Session 1: Minimal Systems to Probe Biological Behavior

11:10 AM

Form and Function of Extensively Engineered Yeast Genomes

Speaker

Jef Boeke, PhD
NYU Langone School of Medicine

Rapid advances in DNA synthesis techniques have made it possible to engineer diverse genomic elements, pathways, and whole genomes, providing new insights into design and analysis of systems. The synthetic yeast genome project, Sc2.0 is well on its way with the 16synthetic Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosomes now >99% completed by a global team. The synthetic genome features several systemic modifications, including TAG/TAA stop-codon swaps, deletion of subtelomeric regions, introns, tRNA genes, transposons and silent mating loci.Strategically placed loxPsym sites enable genome restructuring using an inducible evolution system termed SCRaMbLE which can generate millions of derived variant genomes with predictable structures leading to complex genotypes and phenotypes. The fully synthetic yeast genome provides a new kind of combinatorial genetics based on variations in gene content and copy number. Remarkably, the 3D structures of synthetic and native chromosomes are very similar despite the substantial number of changes introduced. We recently completely engineered the yeast karyotype, by systematically fusing pairs of telomeres and deleting single centromeres, thus generating an isogenic series of yeast ranging from n=16 to n=2.These strains show reproductive isolation and a massively altered 3D genome structure, but are surprisingly “normal” and show high fitness. We have also developed a method that allows us to move megabase segments to distant locations in the genome in a single step, again with surprisingly little impact on fitness. Finally, we have automated our big DNA synthesis pipeline(the GenomeFoundry@ISG), opening the door to parallelized big DNA assembly, including assembly of human genomic regions of 100 kb along with multiple designer synthetic variants thereof.We can precision deliver such segments to stem and cancer cells, and use these methods to dissect genomic “dark matter”, perform transplants of specific human genomic regions to animal genomes, and endow human cells with new capabilities.

11:40 AM

Designing Minimal Cell Division

Speaker

Petra Schwille, PhD
Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry
12:10 PM

Break

12:20 PM

Talk title to be confirmed

Speaker

Farren Isaacs, PhD
Yale University

Session 2: Data Blitz Talks

12:50 PM

Two short talks selected from submitted abstracts

1:20 PM

Break and Virtual Poster Session

Session 3: Panel Discussion

Session Chairperson
To be Confirmed
2:05 PM

Ethical Questions in Synthetic Biology

Session 4: Foundational Technologies for Cellular Engineering

2:50 PM

Membrane-Based Synthetic Cell Systems for Plant Natural Product Biosynthesis

Speaker

James Carothers, PhD
University of Washington

Synthetic cell systems (SCSs) engineered through bottom-up construction offer great promise as platforms for advanced applications in health and the environment. We are creating SCSs as platforms for consistent, high-yield plant natural product drug biosynthesis. One of the central challenges is that many of the plant enzymes catalyzing key steps in these plant-derived drug biosynthetic pathways (e.g. P450s and dioxygenases) are transmembrane proteins that are notoriously difficult to express. Our approach is to engineer membrane-based, cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) systems with phospholipid 'flavors' tailored to emulate plant cell environments. We are currently focused on developing genetic control systems that permit the implementation of multi-gene pathways and the regulated self-assembly of membrane-based SCSs from phospholipid components produced by the TXTL system itself. In my talk, I will present results and outline a vision for the scalable production of medically-important, plant-derived drugs using self-assembled, membrane-based SCSs.

3:20 PM

Designing Biology

Speaker

Reshma Shetty, PhD
Ginkgo Bioworks
3:50 PM

Break

4:00 PM

Synthetic Biology Approaches to New Chemistry

Speaker

Michelle Chang, PhD
University of California, Berkeley
4:30 PM

Keynote - New Horizons in Synthetic Biology

Speaker

Pamela Silver, PhD
Harvard Medical School
5:00 PM

Day 1 Closing Remarks and Adjourn

Thursday

November 19, 2020

10:30 AM

Welcome Back Remarks

10:40 AM

Keynote - Learning to Program Cellular Machines: Harnessing Cells to Treat Disease, Build Tissues, and Elucidate Design Principles

Speaker

Wendell Lim, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Session 5: Synthetic Biology in Human Health and Disease

11:10 AM

Active Genetics Comes Alive

Speaker

Ethan Bier, PhD
University of California, San Diego

Active genetic elements are transmitted during reproduction at greater than expected Mendelian frequencies. Such "super-Mendelian"inheritance can be used for a variety of applications including: gene-drive systems for disseminating beneficial traits throughout populations (e.g., spreading immunizing factors that prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malarial parasites), reversing insecticide resistance, devising elements that can eliminate or inactivate gene drives, creating active genetic modifications that facilitate breeding by bypassing constraints imposed by independent assortment and linkage, and development of self-amplifying systems in bacteria to scrub antibiotic resistance factors from the environment or potentially from patients with chronic bacterial infections, and engineering next-generation genetic circuits for synthetic biology.

11:40 AM

Break

11:50 AM

Biological Systems to Synthesize Complex Therapeutics

Speaker

Christina Smolke, PhD
Stanford University
12:20 PM

Harnessing Gut Microbes to Turn Waste into Energy

Speaker

Michelle O’Malley, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara

Anaerobic microbes work together in complex communities that decompose and recycle carbon biomass throughout the Earth –from our guts to landfills and compost piles. Despite their importance, little information exists to parse the role of each microbial member within their dynamic community. To address these knowledge gaps, we pioneered new techniques to isolate anaerobes from biomass-rich environments (e.g. guts and fecal materials of herbivores), characterize their shared metabolism, and build synthetic microbiomes to drive biomass to renewable chemicals. Herbivore fecal samples were challenged by different types of biomass during cultivation to identify important microbial partnerships; 10 billion metagenomic reads spread across 402 enrichment samples tracked biological diversity as the cultures converged to a set of stable microorganisms. Nearly 200,000 carbohydrate active enzymes were identified from the fecal samples, and 724 genomes were assembled for previously uncultured microbes. Surprisingly, consortia dominated by anaerobic fungi generated more than twice the amount of methane compared to prokaryotic consortia, suggesting that fungi accelerate biomass breakdown and methane release in herbivores. Overall, our analysis points to natural compartmentalization between anaerobes as a means to degrade crude biomass, which can be exploited to harness nature’s microbes for sustainable chemical production using synthetic systems.

12:50 PM

Short talk selected from submitted abstracts

1:05 PM

Break and Virtual Poster Session

Session 6: Panel Discussion

Session Chairperson
To be Confirmed
2:05 PM

Current and Future Challenges in Synthetic Biology

Session 7: Driving Innovation with Synthetic Biology

2:50 PM

Talk title to be confirmed

Speaker

Smita Shankar, PhD
Impossible Foods
3:20 PM

What is in Your Water? Giving Individuals the Power to Monitor their Environments with Cell-Free Synthetic Biology.

Speaker

Julius B. Lucks, PhD
Northwestern University

Poor water quality affects over two billion people across the globe. While we can’t often see or taste water contaminants, it turns out bacteria can. Here I will present our latest research on developing a ‘pregnancy test for water’ -a cheap, fast and reliable approach that allows anyone, anywhere to detect if their water is contaminated. Our approach builds off of advances in cell-free synthetic biology–extracting the machinery of natural organisms to perform their functions but in test tube reactions instead of living cells.Using the principles of synthetic biology, we can ‘rewire’ natural biosensors to produce visible signals when specific contaminants are present in a water sample. The addition of synthetic genetic circuits optimizes these reactions to detect contaminants with high degrees of sensitivity and specificity. Finally, the ability to freeze dry these reactions allows them to be easily stored and transported without cold chain, which has enabled us to demonstrate their utility in the field. This work is creating a new approach to water quality monitoring that promises to dramatically increase the scale at which we can monitor the health of ourselves and our environment.

3:50 PM

Break

4:00 PM

Engineering Algae for Sustainable Materials and Food Production

Speaker

Stephen Mayfield, PhD
University of California, San Diego
4:30 PM

Keynote- Talk title to be confirmed

Speaker

Angela Belcher, PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5:00 PM

Closing Remarks

5:05 PM

Adjourn