Synthetic Biology Tool Development

Some of the work in our lab is dedicated to improving the synthetic biology tools available for metabolic engineers, including those for rapid and reliable strain construction. Toward this end, current work is focused on developing CRISPR based tools for rapid mutliplexed genome editting, which allow for making numerous chromosomal modifications in parallel in a single step.

Dynamic Metabolic Control

Many our experimental efforts are focused on the using dynamic metabolic control (DMC) in the development of platforms enabling the rapid engineering of productive microbes.  In our hands DMC relies on the use of synthetic metabolic valves. These valves, much like water faucets, will be engineered to allow us to dynamically tune the level of flux or metabolic flow through key biochemical pathways.

We are working to develop a generalizable toolkit for valve design, construction and validation in E. coli and S. cerevisiae. Our current efforts in the computational space are two-fold. First, we are using computational models of biochemical networks to aid in the design of our valves. Secondly, we are investigating how to best model and predict the behavior and optimization of minimized biochemical networks created in microbes with synthetic metabolic valves.

Pathway/Product Engineering

We are also interested in the production of numerous specific molecules/products using our methodologies ranging from pharmaceuticals to chemicals and even biofuels.In many cases the improved production of these compounds is a validation of our toolkit. However each compound involves the optimization of a set of related biochemical pathways (groups of enzymes) that are unique to that compound. For optimal production, engineering of these pathways is essential.