Faculty Directory
Michael Jewett

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Michael Jewett


Jewett Lab


Center for Synthetic Biology


Chemical and Biological Engineering


Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

M.S. Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering specialization (summa cum laude), University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Research Interests

Cell-free synthetic biology, protein synthesis, therapeutics, glycosylation, engineered ribosomes

Our research group is motivated by a desire to understand, harness, and expand the capabilities of biological systems for compelling applications in medicine, materials, and energy. Specifically, we focus on designing, constructing, and modifying biological systems involved in protein synthesis and metabolism to (i) understand why nature’s designs work the way they do and (ii) open the way to products that have been impractical, if not impossible, to produce by other means. An innovative feature of our research program is the use of cell-free systems. The foundational principle is that we can conduct precise, complex biomolecular transformations without using intact cells, which provides an unprecedented and otherwise unattainable freedom of design to modify and control biological systems. For example, cell-free systems avoid the need to balance the tug-of-war that exists between the cell’s physiological and evolutionary objectives and the engineer’s process objectives.

Our research activities are structured into three thrust areas: (1) cell-free protein synthesis and orthogonal translation systems, (2) engineered ribosomes, and (3) metabolic engineering. These research areas are connected by approach (e.g., cell-free systems) and their focus on biocatalytic systems (e.g., the translation apparatus). They advance new understanding of biological knowledge and develop enabling technologies for the production of therapeutics, biomaterials, and biochemicals. 

Selected Publications

  • Jewett, Michael C.; Liu, Yi; Fritz, Brian R.; Anderson, Mark J.; Schoborg, Jennifer A., “Characterizing and alleviating substrate limitations for improved in vitro ribosome construction”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2015)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Posko, Eliza; Wagner, Sara C.; Ellington, Andrew D.; O'Reilly, Rachel, “Controlled Assembly of Artificial Protein-Protein Complexes via DNA Duplex Formation”, Bioconjugate Chemistry, (2015)
  • Dudley, Quentin M.; Karim, Ashty S.; Jewett, Michael C., “Cell-free metabolic engineering: Biomanufacturing beyond the cell”, Biotechnology Journal, (2015)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Li, Jian; Lawton, Thomas J.; Kostecki, Jan S.; Nisthal, Alex, “Cell-free protein synthesis enables high yielding synthesis of an active multicopper oxidase”, Biotechnology Journal, (2015)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Hong, Seok Hoon; Kwon, Yong-Chan; Martin, Rey W.; Soye, Benjamin J. Des, “Improving Cell-Free Protein Synthesis through Genome Engineering of Escherichia coli Lacking Release Factor 1”, ChemBioChem, (2015)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Hong, Seok Hoon; Kwon, Yong-Chan; Martin, Rey W.; Swonger, Kirsten N., “Improving cell-free protein synthesis through genome engineering of Escherichia coli lacking release factor 1”, ChemBioChem, (2015)
  • Des Soye, Benjamin J; Patel, Jaymin R; Isaacs, Farren J; Jewett, Michael C, “Repurposing the translation apparatus for synthetic biology”, Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, (2015)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Anderson, Mark J.; Stark, Jessica C.; Hodgman, C. Eric, “Energizing eukaryotic cell-free protein synthesis with glucose metabolism”, FEBS Letters, (2015)

Areas of Research

cell-free synthetic biology, protein synthesis, therapeutics, glycosylation, engineered ribosomes