Tom de Greef is Associate Professor of Synthetic Biology in the department of Biomedical Engineering. Work in the Synthetic Biology group (7 PhD students, 2 post-docs) is directed at the bottom-up construction of basic cellular functions from well-characterized biological components, and the development of novel biological computing devices that can enhance signal-processing capabilities of natural and synthetic cells. This involves the design and construction of integrated genetic, protein or DNA-based circuits, either in a cell-free environment or in living cells, capable of autonomously performing useful functions. To achieve this goal, a multidisciplinary approach is employed that combines elements from DNA/RNA nanotechnology, genetic engineering, microengineering and the modelling and simulation of biomolecular networks. Ultimately, advances in synthetic biology will allow the development of functional living and hybrid technologies such as biological robots, synthetic cells or augmented natural cells, that can be interfaced with the human body to detect disease biomarkers and allow autonomous, closed-loop therapeutic functions.
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