About Us

Genetic control system design and engineering

Through the careful application of genetic engineering, synthetic biological systems can be constructed to investigate questions about biological design and to solve real-world problems.  In our work, we combine computational modeling, in vitro selection and DNA assembly to construct RNA-based genetic control systems in microbial hosts. Our aim is to develop designable genetic control systems that enable better understanding of fundamental biological principles and that help meet demands for renewable chemicals and materials for global health.

About James

James is an Assistant Professor and Member of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES) and Center for Synthetic Biology (CSB) at the University of Washington.  

Previously, James was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist with Jay D. Keasling at UC Berkeley and the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute.  There, he developed design-driven approaches to engineer RNA-based genetic control devices for programming quantitatively-predictable functions in synthetic biological systems.  James was a graduate student at Harvard, where he earned a Ph.D. with Jack W. Szostak.  As a graduate student, he used information theory, in vitro selection, RNA biochemisty and 3D solution NMR to show that there may be a fundamental, quantitative relationship between the informational complexities of molecular structures and the functional activities they can perform.  James has a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale. He has received the University of Washington Presidential Innovation Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and the Harvard Graduate Prize Fellowship.

Outside the lab, he was a fellow of the Silicon Valley Startup Leadership Program (SLP), and enjoys backpacking, snowboarding, mountain biking, cooking BBQ ribs (native Tennessean), trail running with his adopted Boxer, and hiking with his two year old son.