Seminars & Colloquia


Please note: All seminar events are held on Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. Tech M345 unless otherwise noted.


April 5th (in association with BTP):
Ahmad Khalil -- Boston University

The Dark Matter of Synthetic Biology 

Synthetic biology aims to predictively reconstruct cellular regulation to control and synthesize biological function. This approach has been successfully applied to explore and engineer a wide range of cellular systems, but has typically depended on the use of well-established, strongly interacting species to program regulatory interactions. However, cells are full of species that interact weakly to collectively produce large and important effects, as well as forms of regulation that have been largely invisible or inaccessible to synthetic biology. I will discuss our efforts to engineer this so-called dark matter of synthetic biology. I will show how weakly interacting molecular species, chemical modifications to chromatin, and disordered proteins can enable us to encode new functions and traits into synthetic biological systems, including epigenetic functions that allow genetically identical cells to exhibit distinct and stably maintained phenotypes.

Ahmad (Mo) Khalil is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Associate Director of the Biological Design Center at Boston University, and a Visiting Scholar at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. His laboratory develops synthetic biology approaches to examine and engineer the functions of living cells, such as how they make decisions and communicate. He is recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), NIH New Innovator Award, NSF CAREER Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, and a Hartwell Foundation Biomedical Research Award, and has received numerous awards for teaching excellence at both the Department and College levels. Mo was an HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. James Collins at Boston University. He obtained his Ph.D. with Dr. Angela Belcher at MIT, and his B.S. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Stanford University.