The Jewett lab seeks to reconceptualize the way we engineer complex biological systems for compelling applications in medicine, materials, and energy by transforming biochemical engineering with synthetic biology.
Rather than attempt to balance the tug-of-war that exists between the cell’s physiological and evolutionary objectives on one side and the engineer’s process objectives on the other, our group is developing new strategies that widen the aperture of the traditional model of biotechnology. In one direction, we seek to create a new paradigm for engineering biocatalytic systems using cell-free biology. The foundational principle is that we can conduct precise, complex biomolecular transformations in crude lysates without using intact cells. This concept represents a significant departure from cell-based processes that rely on microscopic cellular ‘reactors,’ and provides an unprecedented and otherwise unattainable freedom of design to modify and control biological systems. We are also pioneering new directions to repurpose the translation apparatus for synthetic biology. The goal is to monitor, interrogate, and understand the process of translation, and with this knowledge diversify, evolve and repurpose the ribosome and its peripheral machinery into a re-engineered machine to generate non-natural polymers as new classes of sequence-defined, evolvable matter.
Our laboratory fosters an inclusive, motivated, and creative culture which produces both world-class science and synthetic biology experts.