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Engineering Cellular Communities

Develop scalable pipeline, based on in silico-assisted design and novel synthetic biology tools to create controllable cellular ecosystems with non-natural functions

At a higher level, cells form interacting communities that cooperate and coordinate responses to environmental queues by intercellular communication. Understanding and manipulating cell-cell interactions is an important goal in synthetic biology with emerging applications in healthcare, renewable energy storage, climate control, and production of high-valuable chemicals. By manipulating the human microbiome by designer probiotics, it will be possible to control disease states but will also result in a unique technology to steer individual responses to drugs. Future engineered bacterial consortia obtained via metabolic rewiring, directed evolution and synthetic communication channels will be capable of producing biomass and added-value products from important gasses like CO2 and methane. Manipulating cell-cell interactions is also important for applications involving human cells. We focus on developing standardized workflows, new devices, screening platforms, computational tools and data standards to streamline the manipulation of cell-cell interactions via programmable cellular communication.