Event Information

Biophysics Seminar Series: William Bentley
Monday, September 16, 2019
4:00 p.m.
1116 Institute for Physical Science and Technology
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Speaker: Dr. William Bentley, University of Maryland

Title: Communicating with and controlling biology via biofabrication, synthetic biology, and microelectronics

Abstract: We are developing tools of “biofabrication” that enable facile assembly of biological components within devices, including microelectronic devices, that preserve their native biological function. By recognizing that biological redox active molecules are a biological equivalent of an electron-carrying wire, we have developed biological surrogates for electronic devices, including a biological redox capacitor that enable bi-directional “electron” flow. We have also turned to synthetic biology to provide a means to sample, interpret and report on biological information contained in molecular communications circuitry. To do this, we have participated in the discovery of bacterial quorum sensing and have “rewired” its regulatory components so as to enable eavesdropping on bacterial crosstalk. Finally, we have developed synthetic genetic circuits that enable electronic actuation of gene expression. That is, using simple reconstructions, one can apply voltage on an electrode and directly actuate genetic responses and associated phenotypes. This presentation will introduce the concepts of molecular communication that are enabled by integrating relatively simple concepts in synthetic biology with biofabrication. Our presentation will show how engineered cells represent a versatile means for mediating the molecular “signatures” commonly found in complex environments, or in other words, they are conveyors of molecular communication. These efforts comprise part of the Robert E. Fischell Institute, a new Institute meant to catalyze research and foster translation into clinical practice. The talk will also address the translational ecosystem at Maryland.

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