CWRU Links
Shiyu Xia, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate
California Institute of Technology

Mailing Address:
Pasadena , CA

Research Interests

Research in the Elowitz lab: Making synthetic biology multicellular / Build to understand

Multicellularity is a powerful force in biology. In multicellular organisms, cells differentiate into specialized states that interact with one another to form tissues, brains, and immune systems. Synthetic biology has succeeded in programming dynamic behaviors, signal processing functions, and chemical synthesis in individual cells. The next frontier is to create synthetic multicellular circuits that allow cells to generate distinct states, communicate and store complex information, self-organize in precise spatial patterns, and control their own population dynamics. The Elowitz lab seeks to engineer synthetic circuits that provide these capabilities, by discovering and applying universal principles of multicellular circuit design.

Examined closely, biological circuits often exhibit non-intuitive designs that are difficult to understand. Making sense of those natural designs is essential for understanding, predicting, and controlling cellular behaviors, as well as for creating synthetic therapeutic circuits that can address biomedical challenges. To identify universal principles of biological circuit design, the Elowitz lab analyzes natural pathways quantitatively and dynamically in simplified cellular settings. To explore and apply these principles, the lab designs, creates, and analyzes fully synthetic circuits that implement them "from scratch." In practice, the Elowitz lab finds the approaches are synergistic. Natural pathways inform the design of their synthetic counterparts, providing elegant, unexpected solutions to synthetic design challenges. Conversely, synthetic circuits force us to answer urgent questions about the designs of the natural circuits with which they interface


Related Links