Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Rice, UW win $2M grant for synthetic biology research: Programming bacteria for 'patterned growth' could help advance stem cell research

In previous research, Rice synthetic biologist Jeff Tabor and colleagues created colonies of light-sensitive bacteria that exhibited complex patterns when exposed to images, like this portrait of Albert Einstein. In coming research, Tabor and colleagues at Rice and University of Washington plan to insert genes that will allow the bacteria to grow into complex shapes on their own.
CREDIT: Matt Good and Jeff Tabor
In previous research, Rice synthetic biologist Jeff Tabor and colleagues created colonies of light-sensitive bacteria that exhibited complex patterns when exposed to images, like this portrait of Albert Einstein. In coming research, Tabor and colleagues at Rice and University of Washington plan to insert genes that will allow the bacteria to grow into complex shapes on their own.

CREDIT: Matt Good and Jeff Tabor

Abstract:
Sometimes it's good to start with a clean slate.

That's the idea behind a new four-year, $2 million research program at Rice University and the University of Washington that aims to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by modifying run-of-the-mill bacteria with sophisticated genetic circuits. Researchers say their plan to create bacteria that form geometrical patterns could help scientists better understand the behavior of stem cells.

Rice, UW win $2M grant for synthetic biology research: Programming bacteria for 'patterned growth' could help advance stem cell research

Houston, TX | Posted on September 12th, 2011

"In complex creatures like humans and animals, cells cooperate to form extraordinary patterns and structures from the earliest stages of embryonic development," said Rice bioengineer Jeff Tabor, the principal investigator for the new project. "We want to understand the genetic programming that makes this possible, but these cells are so complex -- and there is so much going on biochemically -- that it's hard to focus on just the piece we want."

Tabor said Escherichia coli (E. coli) provides the researchers with a "blank slate" because colonies of the bacteria don't normally exhibit patterned growth. "By inserting specific genetic circuits into E. coli -- for example, genes that cause them to grow in star patterns -- we can focus on just one piece of a much larger genetic picture."

Rice bioengineer Oleg Igoshin, who specializes in computational bioengineering, said, "The question is really about how much we can control. Can we create a genetic program that forces the overall system into a given geometric pattern?"

Igoshin and Tabor said the feedback between experiment and computational modeling is crucial to the success of the four-year project.

"Accomplishing simple patterns may be possible with intuition, but we will need computational models that are grounded in underlying theory to achieve the kind of complexity that we're aiming for," said Igoshin, assistant professor of bioengineering.

Tabor's co-principal investigators on the four-year program, which was recently awarded a competitive grant from the National Science Foundation, are Igoshin and University of Washington researchers Eric Klavins, Ben Kerr and Georg Seelig. The five come from disciplines as diverse as electrical engineering and evolutionary biology. Tabor said such diversity can be beneficial in synthetic biology, a new field of study that centers upon engineering biological functions not found in nature.

"Synthetic biology has come a long way in the past decade," said Tabor, assistant professor in bioengineering. "There have been significant advances in engineering cells that can sense and react to one another or to external stimuli like light.

"The next big challenge is to build upon those techniques to program cells that can cooperate with one another in complex, coordinated tasks."

Igoshin and Tabor are each faculty investigators at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC), and BRC Scientific Director Cindy Farach-Carson said the grant award highlights Rice's growing prominence in synthetic biology.

"Understanding how living systems form patterns in nature can have a huge payoff in the development of new technologies that will improve our world," said Farach-Carson, Rice's vice provost for translational bioscience. "Imagine a world where we can control how living cells behave. Departments in Rice's schools of Natural Science and Engineering have been working together to recruit the best and brightest scientists to work toward this goal, and this award highlights the success of this recruiting effort."

####

About Rice University
Located on a 285-acre forested campus in Houston, Texas, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to futureowls.rice.edu/images/futureowls/Rice_Brag_Sheet.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

A copy of the NSF grant abstract is available at:

Related News Press

News and information

More effective kidney stone treatment, from the macroscopic to the nanoscale April 17th, 2014

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

INSCX™ exchange to present Exchange trade reporting mechanism for engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to UK regulation agencies, insurers and upstream/downstream users April 17th, 2014

Transparent Conductive Films and Sensors Are Hot Segments in Printed Electronics: Start-ups in these fields show above-average momentum, while companies working on emissive displays such as OLED are fading, Lux Research says April 17th, 2014

Synthetic Biology

'Life Redesigned: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology' Lecture at Brookhaven Lab on Wednesday, April 30: Biomedical Engineer James Collins to Speak for BSA Distinguished Lecture Series April 16th, 2014

Rice synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis: Bioengineers invent ‘light tube array,’ ‘bioscilloscope’ to test, debug genetic circuits March 10th, 2014

Chemical reactions in artificial cell-scale systems show surprising diversity: The thousand-droplets test February 18th, 2014

Countdown to zero: New 'zero-dimensional' carbon nanotube may lead to superthin electronics and synt December 11th, 2013

Discoveries

More effective kidney stone treatment, from the macroscopic to the nanoscale April 17th, 2014

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

Scientists observe quantum superconductor-metal transition and superconducting glass: A team including MIPT physicist observed quantum superconductor-metal transition and superconducting glass April 16th, 2014

Announcements

More effective kidney stone treatment, from the macroscopic to the nanoscale April 17th, 2014

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation April 17th, 2014

INSCX™ exchange to present Exchange trade reporting mechanism for engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to UK regulation agencies, insurers and upstream/downstream users April 17th, 2014

Transparent Conductive Films and Sensors Are Hot Segments in Printed Electronics: Start-ups in these fields show above-average momentum, while companies working on emissive displays such as OLED are fading, Lux Research says April 17th, 2014

Research partnerships

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

Scalable CVD process for making 2-D molybdenum diselenide: Rice, NTU scientists unveil CVD production for coveted 2-D semiconductor April 8th, 2014

Carbon nanotubes grow in combustion flames April 1st, 2014

Never say never in the nano-world March 31st, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE