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CRISPR Meets Synthetic Biology: A Conversation with MIT’s Christopher Voigt

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Apr 22, 2015 10:06:00 AM

As Christopher Voigt explains it, his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been “working on new experimental and theoretical methods to push the scale of genetic engineering, with the ultimate objective of genome design.” It’s genetic engineering on a genomic scale, with the expectation for major advances in agriculture, materials, chemicals, and medicine.

As they’ve gone along, Voigt’s group has also been assembling the toolbox needed for anyone to begin considering genetic engineering projects in a very big way. In one of his latest papers, published in Molecular Systems Biology in November, Voigt and Alex Nielsen describe what’s possible when multi-input CRISPR/Cas genetic circuits are linked to the regulatory networks within E. coli host cells.

We talked with Voigt about this collision that’s taking place between CRISPR technology and synthetic biology, the tools he’s making available through Addgene, and where all of it is likely to lead us in the future. 

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Topics: Genome Engineering, Investigator Feature, Synthetic Biology, CRISPR

Interview: Hodaka Fujii on enChIP, New CRISPR Tools, and More

Posted by Larissa Haliw on Dec 2, 2014 2:23:00 PM

Hodaka Fujii, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Osaka University. The Fujii lab specializes in developing novel technologies to analyze molecular mechanisms of genome functions such as epigenetic regulation and transcription by using locus-specific chromatin immunoprecipitation (locus-specific ChIP). These methods consist of insertional chromatin immunoprecipitation (iChIP) and engineered DNA-binding molecule-mediated chromatin immunoprecipitation (enChIP), both developed in the lab. In June 2014, Dr. Fujii joined Addgene's Advisory Board. 

Addgene: Your lab has worked extensively with enChIP systems. Can you describe this technology and its advantages?

Fujii: In the last several years, my lab has been working on development of technologies for biochemical analysis of genome functions such as transcription and epigenetic regulation. To elucidate molecular mechanisms of regulation of genome functions, we need to identify molecules associated with specific genomic regions of interest in a non-biased manner. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to isolate specific genomic regions while retaining molecular interactions.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Interview, Investigator Feature

Celebrating Accomplishments in the Lab

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on May 8, 2014 11:07:41 AM

The recent conversations with three lab heads have revealed that a combination of hard work, determination, passion, and patience are required to build and lead a productive and successful research lab. Once goals are reached, how do science labs celebrate accomplishments and their team's hard work? Do succesful scientists have time for fun and life outside of the lab? This final post in the PI Interview Series investigates how these three PIs reward their team and manage work-life balance.

How do you celebrate your lab’s achievements?

Tom Ellis highlights the importance of acknowledging his teams successes. “When PhD students graduate there has to be champagne, that's a given.” Furthermore, anyone leaving the lab receives send-off via a gift, card, and trip to the pub. Dr. Ellis adds “we probably don’t celebrate enough... I’ll ask my team at our next group meeting and see if we should start celebrating papers and grants too with pizza or pub.”

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Topics: Fun, Interview, Investigator Feature

Advice for Scientists Starting a Lab

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Apr 29, 2014 9:43:00 AM

In the blink of an eye, the long days in the lab as a graduate student and postdoc come to an end and your next professional adventure begins. While many career pathways exist for scientists and engineers, a few brave scientists will choose to start their own academic research laboratory.

How does one even go about starting a lab? Obviously, funding and support are crucial parameters, and familiarity with equipment always helps. But how does one build a strong collaborative research team motivated by similar visions and goals? We continue our conversation with three PIs who have successfully built their own labs.

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Topics: Career, Interview, Investigator Feature, Career Readiness

Advice for Choosing a Research Project

Posted by Margo R. Monroe on Apr 17, 2014 10:45:00 AM

After joining a lab, the focus shifts to choosing an unexplored and impactful research topic that aligns with your interests. We've outlined some important factors to consider and summarize helpful advice from the successful PIs who were previously featured in "9 Tips to Achieve Success in Academia".

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Topics: Career, Interview, Investigator Feature

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