SpeakersConnaught Summer Institute on Synthetic Biology
We had some exciting speakers at the 2016 Summer Institute workshops.
Peter Zandstra graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McGill University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, obtained his Ph.D degree from the University of British Columbia in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, under the supervision of Jamie Piret and Connie Eaves. He continued his research training as a Post Doctoral Fellow in the field of Bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (with Doug Lauffenburger) before being appointed to the University of Toronto in 1999. Dr. Zandstra holds an academic appointment as a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. He is cross appointed with the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Medical Genetics. Dr Zandstra is the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering and is a recipient of a number of awards and fellowships including the Premiers Research Excellence Award (2002), the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (2006), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2007), “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” (2008) and the McLean Award (2009). Dr. Zandstra is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Zandstra, currently serves associate editor for the journals Stem Cells, Stem Cell Research and Biotechnology and Bioengineering. Research in the Zandstra Laboratory is focused on the regeneration of functional tissues from stem cells and the development and utilization of tools to modulate the responses of stem cells in vitro and in vivo.
Alexander Green is Assistant Professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Dr. Green obtained his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University and his B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Wyss Institute at Harvard. He has pursued research in diverse areas ranging from synthetic biology to self-assembly to carbon nanomaterials with applications in flexible electronics, energy, and low-cost diagnostics. Dr. Green has published over 50 peer-reviewed publications and several of his scientific discoveries have been successfully commercialized.
The summer institute will also feature workshops instructed by the following instructors:
David McMillen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Dr. McMillen’s research interests spans two broad themes; applying engineering principles to synthetic biology designs, particularly with reference to the design of feedback controllers; and creating real-world applications of synthetic biology,with research moving towards cell-based biosensors and engineered cells to actively regulate their extracellular environment. Examples of applied projects include efforts at developing systems to: detect disease microorganisms and respond to counter them; create robust microorganism-based biosensors for blood assays; and engineer metabolic pathways for better production of useful biological products. Dr. McMillen has also been spearheading the Synthetic Biology division at the Impact Centre and is actively involved with bringing suitable partners, both academic and industry, with strong interests in synthetic biology together into a vibrant Canadian community.
Brian Ingalls is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. His research is centered on the application of systems and control theory to molecular systems biology and synthetic biology. Dr. Ingalls has been constructing novel mathematical models of complex cellular processes to improve our understanding of cellular regulation and behaviour, in both natural and perturbed environments. This type of work provides a set of design principles for biological systems in a range of applications, including disease prevention, agriculture, bioremediation, and many others. Prof. Ingalls is the co-editor of Control-Theoretic Approaches in Systems Biology (MIT Press 2009); the first such book to be published in the field. He received his M.Sc. from Dalhousie University and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.
Trevor Charles joins us from University of Waterloo’s Department of Biology. He is an expert in bacterial molecular genetics; one of his main research areas is functional metagenomics. He has demonstrated the ability to isolate novel genes from environmental DNA collected from soil and activated sludge, including genes involved in carbon metabolism, synthesis of bioplastics, phosphorous metabolism, and quorum sensing. This work has led to large projects involving public-private partnerships at the national and international levels and the creation of the Canadian MetaMicroBiome Initiative for the benefit of the scientific community. This is a publicly accessible collection of libraries of environmental DNA representing Canadian soil microbial communities spanning multiple biomes and ecozones. Professor Charles received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia and his Ph.D. from McMaster University.
Keith Pardee is an Assistant Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy where his research lies at the interface of synthetic biology and human health. Dr. Pardee was a research scientist at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University where he developed the first safe and sterile method to deploy gene circuits out of the lab, creating a platform for programmable in vitro diagnostics. Dr. Pardee’s current research focuses on the potential of moving synthetic biology outside of the cell; rather than using cells to host engineered genetic programs, where he is creating programmable materials with the transcription and translation properties of a cell.
Radhakrishnan Mahadevan is Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto. His Laboratory for Metabolic Systems Engineering uses modern techniques in systems and synthetic biology to understand and engineer organisms to solve global issues. His lab has applied the techniques to metabolic engineering with an aim to develop new pathways to produce important platform and commercially relevant chemicals; systems biology with an aim to develop new models to aid engineering designs; and dynamic control for metabolic engineering with an aim to develop new tools in synthetic biology to enable dynamic control of gene expression and improve modularity of synthetic circuits.
Cynthia Goh is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the Academic Director of the Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is an expert on biosensing, surface chemistry, and complex system behaviour, but joins us in the Summer Institute to offer her unique ability to help students understand how their scientific knowledge can translate into solutions to real-world problems. Prof. Goh’s Impact Centre has fostered the creation of over 100 start-ups since 2010, and she is leading the University’s strategy for making innovation and real-world problem-solving into a core feature of university training.