Courses – San Francisco
An Introduction to Synthetic Biology
A One Day Course
San Francisco, October 12, 2013
John Cumbers received his PhD in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry from Brown University. He has a masters degree in bioinformatics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and an undergraduate in computer science from the University of Hull in England. He founded the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines competition) team at Brown in 2005, was an iGEM ambassador to China in 2006/2007 and has been working in synthetic biology and resource utilization in space at NASA Ames since 2008.
Dr. Josh Gilmore received his PhD in Chemistry from University of California Berkeley in 2007 with Matt Francis while studying protein attachment to synthetic surfaces. He performed his postdoctoral work with Professor Jay Keasling at the Joint BioEnergy Institute and SynBERC, learning how synthetic biology can be applied to biofuel production and DNA control mechanisms. He has extensive teaching experience and was a back-to-back outstanding student instructor for organic chemistry at University of California Berkeley. He is currently a consultant for synthetic biology start-up companies.
In 2011, along with two other Stanford colleagues, Nathan Hillsonco-founded TeselaGen Biotechnology, Inc. and serves as its Chief Science Officer. Nathan also works at Berkeley Lab developing foundational technologies that accelerate the biological design-build-test engineering cycle. At Berkeley Lab, Nathan developed j5, a software tool that supports DNA design and cost optimized assembly instruction generation using advanced synthetic biology techniques. TeselaGen was awarded the commercialization and distribution rights to j5, which serves as one of the foundational technologies in TeselaGen’s Biological Design Automation platform. Nathan pursued his Ph.D. thesis at Harvard Medical School investigating how microbes synthesize antibiotics and other natural products and was a postdoc at Stanford developing a whole-cell uranium biosensor and researching bacterial cell-cycle regulation.
Dan Widmaier is the CEO and founder of Refactored Materials, Inc. He has led the company through three years of technology development, growth and financing. He earned his Ph.D. in 2010 in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, specializing in Synthetic Biology from UC San Francisco, under Professor Christopher Voigt, and his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington in 2003. His graduate research included the design, construction, implementation and characterization of synthetic genetic circuits to control natural microbial organelles. He has extensive experience designing refactored spider silk genes for expression and secretion of silk proteins in multiple hosts. Previously, Dr. Widmaier was a Research Associate at Amgen, Inc. where he developed and applied novel bio-analytical methods for monitoring the scale-up manufacturing of clinical drug candidates in oncology and inflammation disease.
Dr. Eric Steen is committed to developing cost and performance advantaged chemicals using synthetic biology. Eric holds a PhD in bioengineering from UC-Berkeley and a minor in Management Technology from Haas School of Business, UC-Berkeley. Eric is an expert in programming cells to perform desired chemical reactions using microbes like yeast and E. coli. He has served as a consultant to the US National Petroleum Industry, has performed technical diligence for a number of companies, and is inventor of numerous catalytic technologies currently being commercialized.
What will I learn from this course?
You will get an introduction to the world of biology, biotechnology and synthetic biology. We start with an input/output approach to biological systems, then explain where biological molecules come from and how they are formed, what they look like and how they perform such a wide variety of functions. We then see how these very same properties of native cell function allow us to probe, manipulate, and modify cell function. With this core knowledge in hand, we’ll discuss state of the art industry applications, such as the ability of biological systems to produce a huge variety of chemicals including alcohols, fuels and drugs and what modern methods are used for the manipulation of biological systems. We will cover how biological systems compute and perform logic, and how biology can be engineered for such activities. The risks and benefits of genetically modified organisms will be discussed and the start-up and industry landscape and new technologies will be reviewed.
Who should take this course?
This course is designed for people with little or no previous knowledge of biology but with some background in the shared engineering skillset of creative problem solving, iteration, classification, and archiving results. We will use analogies and stories from computer science and engineering to describe how cells, genes and organisms function and highlight the differences between these systems, both on a physical level and in terms of technological development. This approach helps us find useful places to apply our effort to improve synthetic biology and to craft high quality projects. If you already have an understanding of biology and are looking for an intermediate or advanced courses in synthetic biology or biotechnology then please contact us.
What is the course and why is it unique?
Synthetic Biology for Computer Programmers is a new course conceptualized and written by Dr. Josh Gilmore and Dr. John Cumbers. The course provides a one-day interactive class for teaching synthetic biology to non-experts. The course is written for tech-professionals in other fields such as computer science, to learn about the growing power of biology to perform useful tasks and make high value products from drugs to spiders silk. We focus on analyzing the similarities and differences in our fields of study to make these lessons accessible, inspirational, and memorable.
How will the course be taught?
We’ll be using a number of modern teaching aids to make it easy for you to get the most out of the course. For example, we’ve structured the modules in manageable segments with core stories, examples, and cross-references to back up the content being explained. We cut through the jargon and help you tackle the latest research by using primarily literature and industry copy in the class. The core course competencies are reinforced in a variety of ways, including interactive Q&A
What is the schedule for the day?
Saturday, October 12th – San Francisco
|Start time||End time||Duration (mins)|
|8:30||9:00||0:30||Registration & coffee|
|9:00||9:10||0:10||Welcome and Introductions|
|9:10||9:50||0:40||Module 1: An Introduction to Synthetic Biology|
|9:50||10:30||0:40||Module 2: The Cell is a Microscopic Chemical Factory|
|10:50||11:30||0:40||Module 3: Structure-Activity Relationships|
|11:30||12:10||0:40||Module 4: Manipulating Organisms, Cells, Genes and Genomes|
|1:00||1:40||0:40||Hands on Biological Design – Nathan Hillson, TeselaGen|
|1:40||2:20||0:40||Module 5: Synthetic Biology for Brewing – Eric Steen, Lygos|
|2:20||3:00||0:40||Module 6: Thinking with Cells and Cellular Computing|
|3:20||4:00||0:40||Guest speaker: Dan Widmaier, Refactored Materials|
|4:00||4:40||0:40||Module 7: Understanding Genetically Modified Organisms|
|4:40||5:20||0:40||Module 8: New Companies and Technologies in the Bioeconomy|
|O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures
1 Lombard St. Suite 303
San Francisco, CA 94111
Early Registration of $350 until October 4th.
Discounts are available for groups or students with financial need.
Our course sizes are less than 30 people to allow for greater interaction with the instructors and guests. For student and non-profit discounts, please contact us.