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Anyone in the synthetic biology community is welcome to attend.

Tuesday at 12pm

32-G449, MIT

Topic of discussion

We will be having a roundtable discussion on applications. What are the key applications that are a) useful b) achievable in 3-5 years with a small team of folks and c) demonstrate the utility of synthetic biology approaches. (note: the following is an incomplete record of the points discussed.)


  • detection
    • PCR-based assays
  • preventing replication
    • terminator seeds
  • preventing mutation
  • preventing horizontal gene transfer
    • restriction/methylation
    • codon usage (re.coli)

Research tools

  • pulse-generator
  • oscillator
    • adjustable frequency / amplitude

Medical diagnostics

  • use antibodies within microbes
    • leverage existing diversity of antibodies
    • MIT igem05 team explored FecA transmembrane protein

Environmental sensors

  • engineered microorganisms as sensors for chemicals / other pathogens in the sewer system
    • if distributed could be cheap, robust epidemiological sensing network, monitor health of community
    • water-treatment plants could be gateway to rolling out system
    • Toto produces individual toilets that do some kind of analysis
    • How could such a working microorganism sensor network, distributed through sewers, be assayed on a meaningful timescale in an efficient manner?
      • biological reporters -> electronic signals (m. simpson, oakridge)


  • oil breakdown in oceans
  • activated sludge

Remote participation

  • Reshma 09:59, 12 March 2007 (EDT): We're still playing around with enabling remote participation in our lunches. Please bear with us as we try this out. I am not sure how well audio is captured ... especially the comments of people in the audience so we are still playing with this.


Update: the "always-on" streams seem to be off. I'll follow up with mark about this. If anyone is actually out there and wanting to participate, I can establish a 2-way ichat or skype videoconference or a 1-way quicktime stream from my laptop right now; let me know in the chat page.(Mac Cowell 12:15, 13 March 2007 (EDT))

Mark Pearrow of CSAIL TIG has set up Kiva with essentially always-on media streams of a webcam in the back of the room and the video of anything connected to vga port 1. Additionally, audio is captured from a lapel mike stored in the cabinet at the back of the room (on which the webcam is perched). Mark recommends using VLC to connect to the two streams: (main camera/speaker) (slides from laptop input 1)

VLC on Mac OS X cannot open two media streams simultaneously, so Mark suggests making a duplicate copy of the VLC application with a name like 'VLC 2' and using it to connect to the second stream.


To submit questions and comments live during the lunch, visit the chat room and type in that window. (You need an OpenWetWare account and you need to enable chat in your preferences (top right hand side of browser window.) We'll have a laptop open to the chat room during the lunch (eventually we might simulcast this on a screen).