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.