Jewett Lab

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Lab Focus

Our research aims to engineer biological systems for compelling applications in medicine and biotechnology. We focus on cell-free systems, with particular emphasis on protein synthesis and metabolism. Engineering cell-free systems both tests our understanding of how life works and generates useful, cost-effective factories for manufacturing human therapeutics and valuable biochemicals that are difficult to make in vivo. Our approach is to integrate fundamental research and engineering design principles with technology development.

Our interdisciplinary efforts take advantage of synergies at the crossroads of biological and engineering science. They represent a bottom-up approach to synthetic biology. The key idea is that design and construction of biological systems will become easier and more reliable if we can develop foundational technologies that partition biology into simple modular pieces that we can directly manipulate and control. To this end, it is desirable to reduce the complexity of existing biological systems and remove unnecessary overhead (e.g. unnecessary genes and evolutionary baggage). Cell-free systems, which are decoupled from the genetic architecture of the cell, offer a unique platform to address this need. They reduce complexity, lack structural boundaries, are free from cell viability constraints, and can direct catalytic resources towards a single objective. As a result, cell-free systems promise to catalyze a new paradigm for studying, tuning, and controlling life.


Graduate Students

Post Doctorates



  • Jewett, M.C., Calhoun, K.A., Voloshin, A., Wuu, J.J., and Swartz, J.R. 2008. An integrated cell-free metabolic platform for protein production and synthetic biology. Molecular Systems Biology. 4:220.
  • Pizarro, F.J. †, Jewett, M.C.†, Nielsen, J., and Agosin, E. 2008. Physiological and transcriptional mapping of evolutionary differences between commercial and laboratory Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.74: 6358-6368.
  • Fazio, A.†, Jewett, M.C.†, Daran-Lapujade, P., Mustacchi, R., Usaite, R., Pronk, J.T., Workman, C.T., and Nielsen, J. 2008. Transcription factor control of growth rate dependent genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a three factor design. BMC Genomics. 9:341.
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