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Engineering Genetic Circuits

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Recently, numerous engineers have demonstrated that genetic circuits can be effectively modeled and analyzed utilizing methods originally developed for electrical circuits leading to new understanding of their behavior. These results have also made it possible to design synthetic genetic circuits that behave like particular electrical circuits such as switches and oscillators. Synthetic genetic circuits have the potential to help us better understand how microorganisms function, produce drugs more economically, metabolize toxic chemicals, and even modify bacteria to hunt and kill tumors. There are, however, numerous challenges to design with genetic material. First, existing genetic design automation (GDA) tools require biologists to design and analyze genetic circuits at the molecular level, roughly equivalent to the layout level for electronics circuits. Another serious challenge is that genetic circuits are composed of very noisy components making their behavior more asynchronous, analog, and stochastic in nature. New GDA tools must address these challenges. This talk presents our research in the development of iBioSim, a GDA tool that supports higher levels of abstraction. This talk also demonstrates the application of this tool to the design of a genetic Muller C-element for use as a quorum trigger.

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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