Faculty Directory
Michael Jewett

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

Email Michael Jewett


Jewett Lab


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

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) synthetic 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

  • Hong, Seok Hoon; Ntai, Ioanna; Haimovich, Adrian D.; Kelleher, Neil L.; Isaacs, Farren J., “Cell-free protein synthesis from a release factor 1 deficient escherichia coli activates efficient and multiple site-specific nonstandard amino acid incorporation”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C., “Cell-free synthetic biology special issue”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Palmer, Megan J., “Enabling a next generation of synthetic biology community organization and leadership”, ACS Synthetic Biology, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Gan, Rui, “A combined cell-free transcription-translation system from Saccharomyces cerevisiae for rapid and robust protein synthesis”, Biotechnology Journal, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Schoborg, Jennifer A.; Hodgman, C. Eric; Anderson, Mark J., “Substrate replenishment and byproduct removal improve yeast cell-free protein synthesis”, Biotechnology Journal, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Fritz, Brian R., “The impact of transcriptional tuning on in vitro integrated rRNA transcription and ribosome construction”, Nucleic Acids Research, (2014)
  • Schoborg, J.A. and Jewett, M.C, “Synthetic Biology”, Wiley Biotechnology Series, (2014)
  • Jewett, Michael C.; Kang, Yan; Lu, Annhelen; Ellington, Andrew; O'Reilly, Rachel K., “Effect of complementary nucleobase interactions on the copolymer composition of RAFT copolymerizations”, ACS Macro Letters, (2013)