User:Karmella Haynes

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Revision as of 16:36, 15 June 2011 by Karmella Haynes (talk | contribs) (Publications)

Contact Info

Photograph © 2009 WGBH Educational Foundation

Dr. Karmella A. Haynes, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Department of Systems Biology
200 Longwood Ave. WAB 536
Boston, MA 02115

phone: 617-432-6406
fax: 617-432-5012

karmella_haynes at hms dot harvard dot edu
karmella.haynes at asu dot edu


  • 2011 (pending), Assistant Professor, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, Arizona State University


  • 2008 - 2011, NIH NRSA Postdoctoral research fellow in Synthetic Biology, Harvard Medical School
  • 2006-2008, HHMI Postdoctoral research/ teaching fellow in Synthetic Biology, Davidson College
  • 2006, Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics, Washington University in St. Louis
  • 1999, B.S. in Biology, Florida A&M University


Karmella's Links
Haynes Lab at Arizona State University (coming soon)
Lab Notebook
Genome Consortium For Active Teaching

2010 Harvard iGEM Team
Team Wiki
Harvard iGEM Blog

Research interests

Synthetic Biology
The field of synthetic biology aims to engineer tiny machines, fashioned from characterized DNA and protein components, that perform useful functions, like synthesizing useful metabolites, attacking tumors, and detecting compounds in the environment. Currently as a postdoc in the lab of Pam Silver at Harvard Medical School, I am exploring the use of eukaryotic proteins as modular parts that can be used to build rationally designed devices in living cells.

Building Devices to Sense Developmental Cues
So far, scientists have shown that molecular biology can be reconstructed to perform potentially useful tasks such as toggle switching, oscillation, pulsing, signal inversion, and multi-input processing. I am interested in developing simple modules that can feed useful biological information into these systems so that a device becomes activated or deactivated in response to developmental changes or disease. Two cellular cues that I am focusing on currently are miRNA expression and chromatin modification. Synthetic devices that can read cellular cues and generate therapeutic outputs (RNA, enzymes, etc.) will be a powerful tool for medicine.

Chromatin, An Untapped Resource for Parts
Nature provides an abundant source of functional proteins for designing new systems. To date, chromatin proteins remain an untapped resource. Chromatin proteins called "effectors" have the remarkable ability to discriminate and bind to specific post-translational modifications of proteins called histones. Can a synthetic protein device be engineered to read histone modifications? Can we use this type of device as a new tool to monitor changes in histone modifications in single living cells? Accomplishing these goals will allow scientists to probe histone modification at unprecedented resolution, thus furthering our understanding of the dynamics of histone modifications associated with cancer and normal cell development.


Calculating Bacteria: Real Computer Bugs?
A group of scientists reports in the Journal of Biological Engineering that they have created specially modified E. coli bacteria capable of performing one specific type of calculation — a puzzle known as the "pancake flipping problem." Karmella Haynes, one of the researchers, discusses the prospects for biologically based computing, and ways in which calculating bacteria might be useful.

Synthetic Biologist Karmella Haynes
This video produced for Teachers' Domain profiles Karmella Haynes, a post-doctoral researcher working in the emerging field of synthetic biology. Karmella explains how she uses biotechnology to build living machines, or devices, from genes.


  1. Haynes KA, Silver PA. (2011) Synthetic reversal of epigenetic silencing. J Chem Biol. E-pub ahead of print. PMID: 21669865
  2. Haynes KA, Silver PA. (2009) Eukaryotic systems broaden the scope of synthetic biology. J Cell Biol. PMID: 19948487
  3. Haynes KA, Broderick ML, Brown AD, Butner TL, Dickson JO, Harden WL, Heard LH, Jessen EL, Malloy KJ, Ogden BJ, Rosemond S, Simpson S, Zwack E, Campbell AM, Eckdahl TT, Heyer LJ, Poet JL. (2008) Engineering bacteria to solve the burnt pancake problem. J Biol Eng. PMID: 18492232
  4. Riddle N, Leung W, Haynes KA, Granok H, Wuller J, Elgin SC. (2008) An investigation of heterochromatin domains on the fourth chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. PMID: 18245350
  5. Haynes KA, Gracheva E, Elgin SC. (2006) A distinct type of heterochromatin within Drosophila melanogaster chromosome four. Genetics. PMID: 17194780
  6. Haynes KA, Caudy AA, Collins L, Elgin SC. (2006) Element 1360 and RNAi components contribute to HP1-dependent silencing of a pericentric reporter. Current Biol. PMID: 17113386
  7. Paper6 pmid=16117658

Science Art Gallery

In addition to science research, I paint and draw. Below are pieces that have a scientific theme. You can view my other work at