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Joe Liang

Graduate Student at Smolke Lab

Department of Chemical Engineering, MC 210-41
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91125-4100

jliang @ caltech . edu


Ph.D Student, Chemical Engineering, Caltech, 2006-present
B.S, Chemical Engineering wiht Applied Physical Science Emphasis, University of California at Berkeley, 2006

Research Interest

RNA aptamers are known to have high molecular discriminating ability. One classic example is that the theophylline aptamers does not respond in the presense of caffeine despite structurally differing in merely one methyl group. This superior sensitivity of aptmaers distinguishing metabolites is a nice trait to be incorporated in a synthetic biological regulartory network, which usually consists of many structurally similar intermeidates. However, the application of using aptamers in a synthetic pathway has been severely limited by the ability to effectivly generate functional aptamers in vivo. Traditional in vitro SELEX usually takes weeks in selection and characterizaion of working aptamers and requires further screening for in vivo activities. In the Smolke lab, we have developed several portable, modular, and tunable engineered RNA-based switch platform that can adopt to different conformations upon binding of various molecular inputs and subsequently modulates the level of target gene expression. We can use the exisiting sensor domain of these switch platforms and implement it as a selection tool to screen library to generate aptamers for other strucually similar molecules. The eventual goal is to incorporate these platforms as part of the regulatory network in a syntheitc biological pathway and redirect molecular flux to generate medicinally valuable intermediates that are too costly to be synthesized chemically.


  1. Y-Junction Carbon Nanotube Implementation of Intramolecular Electronic NAND Gate

    Benjamin Gojman, Happy Hsin, Joe Liang, Natalia Nezhdanova, Jasmin Saini

  2. Evaluation of Two Computational Models Based on Different Effective Core Potentials for Use in Organocesium Chemistry

    Streitwieser, A.; Liang, J. C.-Y.; Jayasree, E. G.; Hasanayn, F. J. Chem. Theory and Comput.; (Article); 2007; 3(1); 127-131


Honors and Awards