From OpenWetWare
Jump to navigationJump to search

Laura Lavery


I recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Biochemistry. I am currently a graduate graduate student in the Biophysics department at UCSF.

I was a member of Andy Ellington's from 2004 to 2006.

Research Summary

In the time I was in the Ellington lab, I was heavily involved with projects in the nascent field of synthetic biology as well as in the development of novel cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology has emerged as an exciting discipline with much to offer to the study of biology as well as the development of biotechnology. One major push in synthetic biology is to reassemble “parts” (functional genetic elements) from extant biological systems in order to engineer novel cellular behaviors and to gain a better understanding of how natural systems function. I have been involved in several efforts in this field that primarily stem from my involvement in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s annual synthetic biology competition.

In the summer of 2004, I joined the University of Texas synthetic biology team in MIT’s first intercollegiate competition, SBC 2004. Our team engineered a community of E. coli to function as a film capable of genetically recapitulating a projected light image. To achieve this we collaborated with Christopher Voigt’s Lab at The University of California, San Francisco, which had rewired a light sensing gene from a cyanobacterium to control gene expression in E. coli. Together we were able to create the world’s first “bacterial photograph”. This work was published in Nature.

I am currently working on several projects which extend our initial efforts on the engineered light system. These projects include the engineering of a genetically encoded edge detector capable of computing the light/dark boundary of the aforementioned image, and a light-directed cell to cell communication network in E. coli. The latter of the two projects I presented at this year’s competition, iGEM 2005. Here is our teams Wiki for iGEM 2005.

Prostate Cancer

(under construction)


  • A. Levskaya, A.A. Chevalier, J.J. Tabor, Z.B. Simpson, L.A. Lavery, M. Levy, E.A. Davidson, A.Scouras, A.D. Ellington, E.M. Marcotte, C.A. Voigt. "Engineering Escherichia coli to see light." Nature, 438 (7067), 441-442. pdf
  • T.C. Chu, F. Shieh, L.A. Lavery, M. Levy, R. Richards-Kortum, B. Korgel, A.D. Ellington. “Labeling Tumor Cells with Fluorescent Nanocrystal-Aptamer Bioconjugates”. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 21 (2006)1859-1866. pdf
  • T.C. Chu, J.W. Marks III, L.A. Lavery, S. Faulkner, M.G. Rosenblum, A.D. Ellington, M. Levy. "Aptamer:toxin conjugates that specifically target prostate tumor cells". Cancer Research pdf

Contact Info


Laura dot Lavery at ucsf dot edu