SynBio Canada
SynBio Canada

Academic Profiles

Academic Profiles

Posts tagged #therapeutics
Dr. Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez
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Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Email Address: cfuente@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Bio: Our research focuses on the design of novel synthetic peptide molecules using principles inspired by synthetic biology, computational biology, and microbiology. Our current application areas include infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance, the microbiome, biomaterials and nanotechnology.

In particular, we focus on redesigning tiny proteins called peptides, which are the workhorses of life, and a source of biologically active molecules with under-explored therapeutic potential. The 20 natural amino acids that make up these molecules offer an almost unlimited number of combinations unparalleled by other polymers such as DNA (20n; n being the number of amino acids present in any given peptide chain). Many other non-canonical residues can also be incorporated into peptide chains via peptide design approaches. In addition, peptides are promising drugs because their primary amino acid sequences can be easily tuned to achieve specific biological functions inside living cells.

Despite their promise, peptide-based therapeutics have largely remained unexplored due to the limited diversity of naturally occurring peptide scaffolds, their cost, and a lack of methods to design them rationally. Using principles from peptide engineering, synthetic biology and computational biology, we investigate how simple nanopeptides may be exploited and rationally designed for a range of medical applications. In addition, we aim to build completely new protein/peptide structures not known to the biological world, and biomaterials for applications in synthetic biology, biotechnology and medicine.

Website: https://delafuentelab.seas.upenn.edu/

Dr. Mads Kaern
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Professor, University of Ottawa

Bio: I believe that Synthetic Biology will continue to play a significant role in medical innovation, including engineered virus and engineered immune cells that can cure cancer. I have been part of the Synthetic Biology community since the early 00' and started working in the field with Dr. James Collins on sources of "noisy" signals in gene expression and the engineering of programable cell behaviour by creating "plug-ins" for interfacing synthetic gene networks and natural signalling pathways. To facilitate medical advances, I am member of the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Regional Genetics Program at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

My NSERC-funded Synthetic Biology program uses an integrated genetic network engineering approach to study gene regulatory processes and develop artificial gene control systems. This program is driven by my long-term passion to understand how genomes encode "programs" that control and coordinate cellular behaviour and organismal development and fail during disease. This involves both foundational and applied research, including DNA assembly methods, artificial transcription factors, biological network design, systems modelling and simulation.

I initiated the uOttawa iGEM undergraduate training program soon after I arrived in Ottawa and have been the organizer and the supervisor of the uOttawa iGEM team. Many iGEM team members have continued as graduate students in my program subsequently moved to world-leading institutions including MIT, Cambridge, Harvard and NYU.

Website: https://bynd.com/news-ideas/google-advanced-search-comprehensive-list-google-search-operators/

Dr. Bogumil Karas

Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario / CEO Designer Microbes

Email Address: bkaras@uwo.ca

Bio: Research in the Karas lab is focused on developing innovative genetic tools to enable the engineering of microbes to produce medicines, DNA storage technologies, food and next-generation fuels. We are using a multi-host system to perform in vivo gene deletions, additions and replacements. This approach was designed to take advantage of existing genetic tools developed for model organisms, including Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Currently, we are developing novel tools for eukaryotic algae: Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Thalassiosira pseudonana and soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti.

Website: https://www.schulich.uwo.ca/biochem/people/bios/Karas.html

Twitter: @BogumilKaras

Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan
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Professor, Associate Chair & Graduate Studies Coordinator, University of Toronto

Email Address: krishna.mahadevan@utoronto.ca

Bio: Our group primarily works on engineering metabolism in bacteria and yeast to produce chemicals and therapeutic molecules. Through the use of computational strategies on genome scale metabolic models of these organisms, we identify genetic intervention strategies to enhance target molecule production. Synthetic biological tools help us assemble and engineer pathways in microorganisms. We use synthetic gene regulatory circuits to dynamically control metabolism in host organisms. The ability to dynamically control metabolism based on environmental inputs finds application in a variety of different areas including therapeutics and industrial biotechnology.

Website: www.lmse.utoronto.ca

Twitter: @LMSE_UofT

Dr. Scott McComb
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Research Officer, National Research Council of Canada; University of Ottawa

Email Address: scott.mccomb@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Bio: Chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T) are an exciting new avenue to redirect immune cells to target and kill cancer. While breakthroughs in CAR-T therapy have led to life-saving treatments for patients with previously incurable leukemia, such therapies have been less successful against solid tumours. Moreover, the determinants of long term cancer regression in CAR-T treated patients are not yet well understood. Using genome editing, we are dissecting the mechanisms of programmed cell death and other immune signalling pathways in T cells in order to improve their effectiveness against cancer. Our long term goal is to create super-functional gene-edited cell therapies to treat currently intractable illnesses such as cancer and autoimmunity.

Website: https://med.uottawa.ca/bmi/people/mccomb-scott

Dr. Moira McQueen

Executive Director, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, University of St Michael's College, University of Toronto, (LLB, M Div, PhD)

Bio: As a bioethicist, I am interested in the science and development of synthetic biology and in ethical questions that arise from its use, as well as in its impact on health care, the workforce and the environment.

Website: www.ccbi-utoronto.ca

Twitter: @moiramcqueen

Dr. Sebastien Rodrigue

Professor, Université de Sherbrooke

Email Address: sebastien.rodrigue@usherbrooke.ca

Bio: My laboratory is mainly interested in microbial systems and synthetic biology. We use and develop cutting-edge approaches to understand and engineer bacterial cells. We use two model organisms: the near-minimal Mesoplasma florum, and the laboratory workhorse Escherichia coli. Our goal is not only to advance fundamental knowledge but also to propose innovative solutions to address the major challenges of this century.

Website: http://lab-rodrigue.recherche.usherbrooke.ca

Twitter: @RodrigueLab

Dr. Ahmad Saleh
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Assistant Professor, Université Laval

Email Address: ahmad.saleh@bcm.ulaval.ca

Bio: Our research projects aim at developing synthetic biology strategies for the biosynthesis of fine chemicals, especially lipid-based drugs and biofuels, to render them accessible for human consumption. In addition, we work on the discovery/invention of new fine chemicals that satisfy emerging human needs in health, energy and bioremediation fields. Our research is conducted using synthetic biology (SB) approaches in microbial hosts as platforms, while aiming at a sustainable production of safe and ecological fine chemicals.

Website: http://abdel-mawgoud.com/

Dr. Peter Zandstra
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Professor & Director, Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia / Professor, University of Toronto

Email Address: peter.zandstra@ubc.ca

Bio: Research in the Zandstra Laboratory is focused on the generation of functional tissue from somatic and pluripotent stem cells. Our quantitative, technology-driven approach strives to gain new insights into fundamental mechanisms that control stem cell fate and to develop robust technologies for the propagation of stem cells and their derivatives. We apply synthetic biology to understand and control cell fate decisions by manipulating the stem cells themselves (genome editing, gene circuit engineering) and their prospective niche (synthetic biomaterials, macro- and micro reactor technologies).

Website: http://stemcell.ibme.utoronto.ca/

Twitter: @PZandstra

Dr. Wei Zhang
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Assistant Professor, University of Guelph

Email Address: weizhang8182@gmail.com

Bio: My lab opened in July 2018 at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph. We are creating synthetic proteins using biomolecular engineering approaches to accelerate understanding of biology and development of novel therapeutics.

Website: www.thezhanglab.com

Twitter: @WeiZhangTO