Welcome to the University of Washington Center for Synthetic Biology

Established March 2013, the mission is to provide a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment for research, education, innovation, safety and responsibility in synthetic biology at the UW and in the Seattle area.

Principal faculty members and participating researchers

James Carothers (Co-Director, Chemical Engineering), Maitreya Dunham (Co-Director, Genome Sciences),  David  Baker (Biochemistry), Neda Bagheri (Biology and Chemical Engineering), Eric Klavins (Electrical Engineering), Hao Yuan Kueh (Bioengineering), Ben Kerr (Biology), Mary Lidstrom (Chemical Engineering), Jorge Marchand (Chemical Engineering), Ray Monnat (Pathology), Jennifer Nemhauser (Biology), Georg Seelig (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering), Herbert Sauro (Bioengineering), Kelly Stevens (Bioengineering), Wenying Shou (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Jesse Zalatan (Chemistry)


Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline focused on engineering biological parts and pathways that enable living systems to perform new and useful functions. Research in synthetic biology involves engineered gene regulatory mechanisms and networks, engineered signaling pathways, metabolic engineering, and engineered biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Applications include new tools to study existing biological systems, novel diagnostics and therapeutics, chemical synthesis, and the engineering of novel strains for industrial processes.

Education and Community

The CSB supports programs that foster collaboration and education in synthetic biology. We have developed a three-course sequence, cross-listed among four departments. We have a world-champion undergraduate synthetic biology team that has competed in the iGEM competition every year since 2008. We run several journal clubs, reading groups, and joint group meetings. Finally, we run a yearly workshop in synthetic biology that attracts participants from the university, the Hutch, Seattle Biomed, the ISB, PATH, Microsoft Research, and beyond.