MIT & ETH Zurich Discussion & Reception
The MIT Alumni Association, in partnership with swissnex Boston, is excited to bring together two of the world’s leading researchers in synthetic biology for a lively conversation and networking reception on Thursday evening, June 25th. Professors Ron Weiss (MIT) and Yaakov (Kobi) Benenson (ETH Zurich) will share their latest research in enabling more sophisticated synthetic circuits at the cellular level with alumni from MIT and Swiss universities.
Weiss’s and Benenson’s research in biological circuitry is being used to better understand the way RNA communicates with DNA and how circuits engineered from biological materials can connect to strengthen or weaken cells. Such research may have longstanding impacts on efforts to combat disease at the cellular level.
Ron Weiss, a world leader in the field of synthetic biology, is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering and EECS at MIT. He is noted for his development of systematic engineering methodology in this nascent field. He has designed and constructed synthetic networks in bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells, which in particular may lead to revolutionary medical applications. His group developed synthetic biological systems that sense and destroy cancer cells by detecting diagnostic miRNA signatures and gene circuits that control stem cell differentiation into pancreatic beta cells for diabetes, as well as for other cell types. He founded and co-directs the MIT Synthetic Biology Center and takes a leading educational role, developing new classroom subjects and coaching the undergraduate iGEM Competition.
Yaakov (Kobi) Benenson is Professor of Synthetic Biology at ETH Zurich. Benenson is best known for his work on biomolecular computing devices made of DNA and enzymes, which he later upgraded to perform diagnostics using molecular disease markers. MIT Technology Review named Benenson one of the world’s top 100 young innovators in 2004. After completing his PhD in 2005, Benenson moved to Harvard University to take an independent position at the FAS Center for Systems Biology. In collaboration with Professor Weiss’s lab, Benenson’s lab at Harvard pioneered an RNA interference-based approach to molecular computing in mammalian cells. This method is successfully being used to construct increasingly complex synthetic circuits for the benefit of basic science as well as biotechnology and biomedicine. Benenson joined ETH in 2010 to establish a Synthetic Biology group at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel.
MIT Alumni Association, ETH Alumni, and swissnex Boston