Harvard:SysBio 204/2016

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Systems Biology 204: Biomolecular Engineering and Synthetic Biology 2016

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Course overview

  • A course focusing on the rational design, construction, and applications of nucleic acid and protein-based synthetic molecular and cellular machinery and systems. Students are mentored to produce substantial term projects.
  • Intended for graduate students in Systems Biology, Biophysics, Engineering, Biology and related disciplines. No formal prerequisites. Projects are tailored to each student's strengths and interests.
  • Website: http://sb204.net
  • Poster: http://openwetware.org/images/8/8f/Sb204.2016.poster.pdf

Midterm and Final

  • There will be two midterms and one final project for this class
    • Policy: strict submission deadline, we encourage you to submit your work the night before
    • Midterm #1 due: 12pm Monday Oct. 3rd (slides, video), and 12pm Monday Oct. 10th (report, sequences)
    • Midterm #2 due: 12pm Monday Oct. 31st (slides, video), and 12pm Monday Nov. 7th (report, sequences)
    • Final project due: 12pm Monday Nov. 28th (slides), and 12pm Monday Dec. 5th (report, sequences)
    • Method of submission: email slides and presentations to TA and submit them to Dropbox folder shared by TF
  • Midterm and Final Projects (may be updated)


  • Instructors: George Church, William Shih, Peng Yin
  • Teaching Fellow: Weidong Xu (wxu@g.harvard.edu)
  • Meeting time: 2:30 - 3:59 PM, Mon/Wed, Fall 2016
  • Location: Room 521, Wyss Institute, 3 Blackfan circle, Boston, 02115
  • First class on Wednesday Aug. 31st.
  • No exams
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Grading
    • 20% Participation
    • 40% Midterm projects
    • 40% Final project
  • Harvard course site

Example topics for final design project

  • miRNA pattern recognition in eukaryotic cells
  • Directed evolution of chemical sensors
  • Nano-breadboards for probing electron transport in proteins
  • Altered genetic codes and amino acid alphabets
  • Modification of proteins for function in harsh environments
  • Automatable assembly of large synthetic genes and circuits
  • Synthetic biology of stem cells and epigenetic reprogramming pathways
  • Structural re-engineering of adenoviruses
  • Artificial chemotactic swimmers
  • Nonequilibrium networks of nano-machines mimicking dynamic instability in the cytoskeleton
  • Recombinase-based multi-state memory in bacteria
  • Exosome manufacturing
  • Self-assembled solar energy harvester based on bio-inorganic nano-antennae for uv-vis
  • Systematic debugging of DNA labeling chemistries by atomic-resolution TEM imaging of DNA origami
  • Transcriptional activation and repression through rational molecular design
  • Tissue engineering scaffold nano-materials
  • Programmable multistep chemical synthesis by templating on catalytic nanostructures
  • Ultra-sensitive signal processing for synthetic biology
  • Antibody 2.0
  • Synthetic nanostructure - virus conjugates
  • Replication of information in synthetic crystals
  • Cheap large-scale production of protein or DNA-based materials
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Background Info and previous class projects