Silver: Synthetic Biology

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Synthetic biology is a new discipline focused on design and construction of synthetic genomes and programmed cells through cycles of computer modeling, assembly, and testing (not necessarily in that order). The goal of synthetic biology (at least in our lab) is to both enhance our understanding of biology and to develop tools for constructing organisms with defined functions. Such organisms could be used as rationally constructed and safe vaccines, or to clean up oil spills and then die, or to sense the presence of a molecule and generate a readout. Current experiments focus on using the added complexity of eukaryyotes in our designs and include the construction of a cellular oscillator based on nuclear/cytoplasmic localization and a lifespan counter for analyzing cellular aging.