July 27 - August 10, 2015
Application Deadline: April 15, 2015

Instructors and Co-Instructors:
John Dueber,
University of California, Berkeley     Mary Dunlop, University of Vermont
Karmella Haynes, Arizona State University    Julius Lucks, Cornell University
Pamela Peralta-Yahya, Georgia Institute of Technology      Stanley Qi, Stanford University

2015 course website

See the roll of honor - who's taken the course in the past

Synthetic biology is a discipline wherein living organisms are genetically programmed to carry out desired functions in a reliable manner. This field takes inspiration from our ever-expanding ability to measure and manipulate biological systems, and the philosophical reflections of Schrodinger and Feynman that physical laws can be used to describe and rationally engineer biology to accomplish useful goals. After all, cells are the world’s most sophisticated chemists, and their ability to learn to adapt to changing environments offer enormous potential to solving modern engineering challenges. Nonetheless, biological systems are noisy, massively interconnected, and non-linear, and have not evolved to be easily engineered. The grand challenge of synthetic biology is to reconcile the desire for a predictable, formalized biological design process with the inherent ‘squishiness’ of biology.

Learn Techniques and Perform Research at the Forefront of Synthetic Biology: The course will focus on how the complexity of biological systems, combined with traditional engineering approaches, results in the emergence of new design principles for synthetic biology. The Course centers around an immersive laboratory experience. Here, students will work in teams to learn the practical and theoretical underpinnings of cutting edge research in the area of Synthetic Biology. Broadly, we will explore how cellular regulation- transcriptional, translational, post-translational and epigenetic- can be used to engineer cells to accomplish well-defined goals. Specific laboratory modules will cover the following areas: cell-free transcription and translation systems, high-throughput cloning techniques, computational biology using ordinary differential equations models, biosensor development for metabolic engineering, and CRISPR for genome editing in mammalian cells to regulate synthetic genes and physical cell properties. Students will first learn essential synthetic biology techniques in a four-day ‘boot-camp’, and then rotate through research projects in select areas.

In addition, students will interact closely with a panel of internationally-recognized speakers who will give students a broad overview of applications for synthetic biology, including renewable chemical production and therapeutics, the current state-of-the-art techniques, and case studies in human practices and socially responsible innovation.

Speakers in 2015 include:
Elisa Franco, University of California, Riverside
Nathan Hillson, Harvard Medical School
Mo Khalil, Boston University
Thomas Knight, Ginkgo BioWorks
Vincent Noireaux, University of Minnesota
Pamela Silver, Harvard Medical School
Danielle Tullman-Erceck, University of California, Berkeley
Harris Wang, Columbia University

Applications: Synthetic biology is an inherently interdisciplinary field. We encourage students of all backgrounds, whether the very biological or very theoretical, to apply. In your Statement/Essay (see How to Apply) please rank your interest in three major available laboratory modules:

- TxTL: Engineering Gene Circuits in Cell-free Transcription-Translation Systems;
- Biosensors: Designing Biosensors for Metabolic Engineering;
- CRISPR: Using DNA-editing to Control Mammalian Cell Phenotypes.

We anticipate this course will be supported with funds provided by:
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Helmsley Charitable Trust and National Science Foundation

Cost (including board and lodging): $3,735

This button links to a short form which confirms your interest in the course.
No fees are due until you have completed the full application process and
are accepted into the course.


Students accepted into the course should plan to arrive by early evening on July 27 and plan to depart after lunch on August 10.