Synthetic Biology

Division Chief: Assaf Gilad

Vision: We look to the natural world to provide the basic building blocks of new living systems and assemble these into new structures and select for those that enable the most improved system. 

Mission: Our overarching goal is to achieve deeper understanding of biological systems in order to reengineer the natural cellular machinery and utilize it to develop innovative therapeutic strategies and rebuild biological systems.

Approach: Using engineering principles we create libraries of biological components to be assembled in biological chassis (cells) to create integrated biological systems.  

Current research focuses:

  • Developing innovative technologies based on novel genes as well as protein engineering for activating cellular pathways, with anticipated variety of applications in both basic research and in the clinic.
  • Constructing Synthetic Biology circuits in prokaryotic and Mammalian (stem) cells.
  • Developing genetically encoded technologies for high-resolution (stem) cells visualization with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the fields of regenerative medicine and immunotherapy.
  • Studying how human cells maintain their genomic integrity, an important barrier to cancer formation.
  • Studying telomere maintenance and the DNA damage response, using modern genome editing and microscopy techniques, with the ultimate goal of developing new therapeutic strategies to treat cancer.
  • Advancing the understanding of extracellular vesicle (EV)-mediated cell-to-cell communication.
  • Engineering EVs to create novel gene delivery tools, and developing high-throughput screens to identify regulators of EV biogenesis and secretion in cancer cells.