(1) A sensing array of radically coupled genetic 'biopixels'. [Nature 2012]
I used synergistic modes of communication—quorum sensing via dissolved AHL and redox signaling via H2
vapor—to enable the synchronization of genetic clocks across centimeter length scales. I used this platform to construct an LCD-like macroscopic "biopixel" array used to sense arsenic via modulation of the oscillatory period. This work received substantial attention including an F1000 evaluation, Nature News & Views commentary, and media coverage from MSNBC, CNET, L.A. Times, Popular Science and others.
(2) Clinical applications for cancer therapy and diagnostics. [Science Translational Medicine 2014 (in review), ACS Synthetic Biology 2012, ACS Synthetic Biology 2012]
I expanded the use of genetic circuits to Salmonella typhimurium
and the probiotic bacterium E. coli
Nissle 1917 to tackle clinical applications in cancer diagnostics and therapy. This work represents a key step toward realizing synthetic biology applications—moving into microbial species beyond lab strains of E. coli. As part of this research, I initiated a collaboration with Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia and spent 3 months at the MIT Koch Institute studying in vivo
gene circuits in mouse models of cancer. During this period, in collaboration with Tal Danino, I proposed a new project on engineered probiotics for point-of-care cancer diagnostics.
(3) Rapid and tunable post-translational coupling of genetic circuits. [Nature 2014 (in press)]
I used competitive coupling to post-translationally link two independent genetic clocks across the single-cell, colony, and multi-colony scales. Using this platform, I constructed a multispectral encoding circuit whereby frequency-modulated oscillations from both clocks are combined into a single time series, thus enabling the extraction of the dynamics of multiple underlying networks via the measurement of a single reporter. In addition, through integration with host signaling processes, I used the clock network to uncover novel regulation in the host stress response to H2