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(back to SynBERC Devices)
6 December 2006 conference call


  1. Review of Devices Research Thrust
    1. What is the goal of the thrust?
  2. Device Family Specifications
    1. Gene-Expression
      • STATUS: Signal carrier defined, levels not defined, characterization platforms in development
    2. Post-Translational
      • STATUS: Signal carrier unclear, levels not defined, unsure regarding characterization platforms
    3. Biosynthetic
      • STATUS: Some progress on signal carriers (chassis interfaces uncertain), levels not defined, unsure regarding characterization platforms
    4. Sensing, Actuating, Signaling
      • STATUS: Unknown (should these be rolled into another family?
  3. Testbed Devices
    1. Tumor-Killing Bacterium Devices
      • STATUS: Unknown
    2. Drug Factory Bacterium Devices
      • STATUS: Unknown
  4. Device Characterization
    1. Screening plasmids for gene-expression devices known to exist (Endy & Keasling labs)
    2. Exemplar datasheet for F2620 known to exist
    3. Parts Fab(s) coming online in 2007; may allow for more systematic / scaleable device characterization.
  5. Staffing
    1. Device family specification work is well understood for both gene expression and post-translational devices but the people who best understand the work (Reshma Shetty and Samantha Sutton) are bogged down in experiments. What is the best way for us to get useful models for these device families (e.g., a GE device model that took us to a first-generation estimate of desired signal levels would be very useful yesterday).
    2. Who are the individual(s) in the lead testbed groups who can serve as points of contact for describing and defining exemplar devices? Can we use the Registry for this?
    3. Are the testbed groups getting the devices that they need?
  6. Next Steps
    1. Wiki, can we put it to good use?
    2. Should some of us (and others) have a regular Device team meeting?
  7. Other Topics
    1. Overview of SynBERC retreat
    2. V. short debrief from ERC workshop in DC
    3. V. short debrief from Sloan governance workshop in DC
    4. V. short discussion re: internal SynBERC press network

Topics Arising

  1. Characterization of gene expression devices. We have a good start on screening and measurement platforms for gene expression devices. We should start a small team to make sure that we are using best available approaches / technologies.
  2. Characterization of biosynthetic devices. Not clear how to best do this at the scale we will require (i.e., for all the biosynthetic devices we want to make). We should start another small team to brainstorm and bring together best ideas.
  3. It's not clear what the status of the testbed devices currently is, what they actually are (at the DNA level), who is working on them, and so on.
  4. It would be good to complete a full, first-pass quantitative spec. for at least one device family before the site visit. The two students best suited to do this modeling work are heavily engaged with experiments.
  5. ERC annual meeting and Sloan workshop both happened in the past week and went well.
  6. We have too many devices to work on at once.

Action Items

  1. The SynBERC site visit is 2/22-23. Jay would like to have a retreat beforehand. Kevin will send our an email shortly to query availability and desires, et cetera.
  2. Chris & Kris, The two testbeds projects need to define a lead point of contact for testbed device development issues.
  3. We need a prioritized list of "year 1" devices. The devices should be specified in the Registry as parts and devices (w/ DNA sequence information and so on).
  4. The staffing issue around gene-expression device family specification and modeling has been resolved (last night). We should be able to get a first-generation quantitative device family specification completed by the end of January. Reshma Shetty & an MIT undergrad will take the lead on this.
  5. We need to identify research team leaders for promoting our development / acquisition of best available approaches and technologies for device characterization. To start, we need this for gene expression devices and for biosynthetic devices. Please email me if you have any students or postdocs who would be able to serve on such teams. We don't need a lot of people (N~3), but we need to make sure that this work is underway.


  1. Have a great day!