Individual Members

  • Yasuo Yoshikuni

    Dr. Yasuo Yoshikuni is a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He leads the DNA synthesis science user program at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI). His program has already supported more than 200 user projects globally, and several major publications were published through the program. Dr. Yoshikuni’s personal research focus is to study and understand microbe- and plant-microbe communications for sustainable agriculture, developing non-model yeast for fuel and chemical production, and biomaterials synthesis using systems and synthetic biology. Before joining the DOE JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni was co-founder and chief science officer at a clean technology start-up, Bio Architecture Lab, Inc. (BAL), where his significant achievement was using systems and synthetic biology to discover novel pathways assimilating unique sugar polymers in macroalgae and to develop the first microbial platform technologies unlocking the potential of macroalgae as an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective biomass for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. The development of this technology allowed the company to build a strong IP propositions and to raise ~$40 million from private funding sources, receive prestigious national grants, and build a commercial partnership with leading companies in the oil and chemical industries. The work also led to several patents and high-impact scientific publications.

  • Todd Treangen

    I am an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Rice University in Houston, TX. My research group focuses on bioinformatics, specializing in metagenomics, biosecurity, and microbial forensics. In addition, I have prioritized developing open-source bioinformatics software and analysis pipelines designed to facilitate exploratory and hypothesis-driven biological research, aimed at the intersection of microbial ecology, comparative genomics, and computer science.

  • Aindrila Mukhopadhyay

    Dr. Mukhopadhyay is a Senior Scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, CA. She received a master’s in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in, Mumbai, India in 1996 and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL in 2002. She did her postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley and LBNL. Currently, she is the principal investigator of her team that is part of several large interdisciplinary projects, mainly focused on engineered and environmental microbial systems. She is the Vice President of the Biofuels and Bioproducts Division at the Department of Energy funded, Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and is also the Director of its Host Engineering group. As part of JBEI her group develops tools to examine and engineer a variety of microbial platforms including Pseudomonas putida, Corynebacterium glutamicum, Escherichia coli, Rhodosporidium toruloides, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and other microbial strains. She uses a range of functional genomics, metabolic modeling, and systems biology approaches. Her group specifically focuses on developing robust strains that show high tolerance and productivity during biofuel and chemical production, and the optimization required to achieve scalability.

  • William Bentley

    WILLIAM E. BENTLEY is the Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Chair in Engineering and was the founding Chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. At Maryland since 1989, Dr. Bentley has focused his research on the development of molecular tools that facilitate the expression of biologically active proteins, having authored over 300 related archival publications. Recent interests in synthetic biology and biofabrication exploit the components of bacterial quorum sensing and redox for opening ‘communication’ between electronic devices and biological systems. He has mentored over 40 PhDs and 21 postdocs. He is co-PI of Maryland’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI), a comprehensive joint initiative with the FDA and Maryland’s Baltimore campus. He is also co-PI of the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, joint with Children’s National Medical Center. Dr. Bentley is a Fellow of the ACS, AAAS, and AIMBE and is an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology.

  • Mo Ebrahimkhani

    Dr. Mo Ebrahimkhani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. He is also a member of the Division of Experimental Pathology and the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center. Prior to his current position he was an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University and adjunct faculty of medicine at Mayo Clinic. He performed his Postdoctoral training at the Department of Biological Engineering in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
    Dr. Ebrahimkhani has an MD degree from Tehran University of Medical Sciences and was awarded a European Association for Study of Liver Sheila Sherlock Fellowship to investigate regenerative processes at University College London. His lab combines human stem cells, synthetic biology and in vivo mouse models to understand tissue development and regeneration and develop technologies to modulate these processes in a personalized fashion. Dr. Ebrahimkhani is the recipient of several research awards including RO1s from NIH, Mayo Clinic accelerated regenerative medicine award and New Investigator Award from Arizona Biomedical Research Council. He is also a member of PLOS ONE Editorial Board (2018- present).
    He directs THE LABORATORY FOR SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE. His lab research combines systems and synthetic biology-based approaches to program development of induced pluripotent stem cells across the developmental trajectories and towards human designer liver organoids and hematopoietic niches. This approach will open novel opportunities for next generation genomically engineered human tissues, personalized disease modeling and more effective regenerative therapies. His vision is to advance regenerative medicine through integrating systems and synthetic biology.

  • Matthew DeLisa

    Matthew P. DeLisa is the William L. Lewis Professor of Engineering in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University and also the Director of the Cornell Institute of Biotechnology. His research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis — folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications — in the complex environment of a living cell. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1996; a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2001; and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas-Austin, Department of Chemical Engineering. DeLisa joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University in 2003.

    DeLisa has received over a dozen honorific distinctions and prestigious awards for his accomplishments in research including an NSF CAREER Award, a NYSTAR Watson Young Investigator Award, a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, an MIT Technology Review TR35 Award (Top 35 Young Innovators under the age of 35), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a NYSTAR Distinguished Faculty Award, the Wiley-Blackwell Biotechnology and Bioengineering Wang Award, and the American Chemical Society BIOT Division Young Investigator Award. More recently, DeLisa was selected to the IDA/DARPA Defense Science Study Group in 2014 and was elected as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2014, the American Academy of Microbiology in 2019, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2019.

  • Leonidas Bleris

    Leonidas Bleris is an Associate Professor with the Bioengineering Department of the University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining UTD, Bleris was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University. Bleris earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2006. He received a Diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2000 from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Bleris was awarded the Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship from the National Academy of Science (NAS), and served with the Board of Mathematical Sciences and their Applications. During 2009-2010, Bleris was a Visiting Scientist at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, and since 2008 an Independent Expert with the European Commission under the “Science, Economy and Society” directorate. Bleris served as the University of Texas at Dallas Representative for the 2011-2012 Tuning Oversight Council for Engineering and Science, Committee on Bioengineering, and received the 2014 Junior Faculty Research Award from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. In 2018 Bleris was awarded a Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair in Systems Biology Science. His research has focused on systems biology, mammalian synthetic biology and genome editing, and has received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) including the NSF CAREER award.

  • Ithai Rabinowitch

    Ithai started his academic path studying Industrial Engineering at Tel Aviv University, acquiring quantitative approaches to the analysis and design of complex systems. He then steered to neuroscience, embarking on a Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, investigating theoretically how the morphology and structure of neurons determine the dynamic interactions between synaptic inputs. Ithai then continued with postdoctoral training in Cambridge, UK and in Seattle, USA, this time doing experimental work on neural circuits in the tiny nematode worm C. elegans. Bringing together his passion for neurobiology and engineering, Ithai contributed to establishing a neuro-synthetic biology. Ithai joined the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine in late 2017 where his lab is continuously studying and designing C. elegans neural circuits.

  • Mikael Elias

    Mikael Elias received a B.S. (2004) and a M.S. (2006) degree from the Universite de Lorraine (France) and a Ph.D. degree (2009) from the Universite Aix–Marseille (France). Mikael joined the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel) as a FEBS postdoctoral fellow (2009) and later (2011) as a Marie Curie Fellow. In 2014, Mikael joined the University of Minnesota (USA) and is now associate professor in the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics Dpt, as well as the BioTechnology Institute . The Elias lab research lies at the interfaces of biology, chemistry and microbiology. It focuses on the atomic-level understanding of the molecular determinants underlining molecular recognition, engineering enzymes and using molecular tools to control microbial behaviors.

  • Seongkyu Yoon

    Seongkyu Yoon is Professor in the Francis College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Lowell. Currently Dr. Yoon is working as a co-director of Massachusetts Biomanufacturing Center, is the UMass site director of the National Science Foundation Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers Program Research Center (NSF-IUCRC), the Advanced Mammalian Biomanufacturing Innovation Center (AMBIC), and the UMass lead for ManufacturingUSA in Biomanufacturing (NIIMBL). His research interests include process system engineering, synthetic and systems biotechnology, regulatory sciences, and biomanufacturing innovation. He is leading a systems and synthetic biology research group while conducting research in systems and synthetic biotechnology, life science informatics, and regulatory sciences with goals to develop an innovative biomanufacturing platform of protein-cell-gene biotherapeutics. Dr. Yoon received his PhD in chemical engineering from McMaster University, Canada, and his MBA from Babson College.

  • George Lu

    George Lu obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta in Canada, before moving to the UC San Diego for his Ph.D. study on protein structural biology. He then became a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Mikhail Shapiro at Caltech, where he focused on the engineering of gas-filled protein nanostructures for biological imaging and cellular control. Dr. Lu was previously awarded the Young Investigator of the Year from the World Molecular Imaging Society for his work on the development of acoustically erasable MRI reporter genes. The independent lab was newly established in the Bioengineering Department at Rice University in 2020 with the support of the NIH Pathway-to-independence (K99/R00) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar awards.

  • Calin Plesa

    Calin Plesa is an Assistant Professor in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon. He received a BASc in Engineering Physics from Simon Fraser University, a MSc in Nanoscience from Chalmers University of Technology, and a PhD from Delft University of Technology in Bionanoscience. As an HFSP Fellow in the Kosuri lab at UCLA he developed DropSynth, a low-cost scalable method to synthesize thousands of genes. Calin holds a CASI award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and started his lab at the University of Oregon in 2019.

    The Plesa lab focuses on accelerating the pace at which we understand and engineer biological protein-based systems. Towards this end, we develop new technologies for gene synthesis, multiplex functional assays, in-vivo mutagenesis, and genotype-phenotype linkages for a number of different research areas and applications. These allow us to both access the huge sequence diversity present in natural systems as well as carry out testing of rationally designed hypotheses encoded onto DNA at much larger scales than previously possible.

  • Athanasios Mantalaris

    Athanasios (Sakis) Mantalaris is Professor in the W.H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech & Emory since August 2018. Prior to his move to Atlanta, he was Professor of BioSystems Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. He received his PhD (2000) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester. His expertise is in modelling of biological systems and bioprocesses with a focus on mammalian cell culture systems, stem cell bioprocessing, and tissue engineering. He has published over 170 original manuscripts, co-edited one book, and holds several patents with several more pending. He has received several awards including the Junior Moulton Award for best paper by the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) in 2004. In 2012, he was elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering and in 2013 he was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Award. In 2015, he was awarded the Donald Medal by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) for his contributions to biochemical engineering.

  • Xiaojing Gao

    Dr. Xiaojing Gao is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering from Stanford University. He received a B.S. in Biology from Peking University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University. He received his postdoctoral training from Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech. His lab tackles fundamental engineering challenges across different levels of complexity, such as (1) protein components that minimize their crosstalk with human cells and immunogenicity, (2) biomolecular circuits that function robustly in different cells and are easy to deliver, (3) multicellular consortia that communicate through scalable channels, and (4) therapeutic modules that interface with physiological inputs/outputs. Their engineering targets include biomolecules, molecular circuits, viruses, and cells, and their approach combines quantitative experimental analysis with computational simulation. The molecular tools they build will be applied to diverse fields such as immunology, neurobiology, and cancer therapy.

  • David Karig

  • Yinjie Tang

    Dr. Yinjie Tang did his BS/MS in chemical engineering at Tianjin University. He obtained his PhD at University of Washington and his research was on kinetic modeling of marine sediment remediation. He did his postdoc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He joined Washington University In 2008 and was promoted to full professor in 2018. His research focuses on algal engineering, metabolic flux analysis, and process modeling.

  • Taylor Ware

    Taylor Ware is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to joining UT Dallas in August 2015, he graduated summa cum laude with his B.S. from the Georgia Institute of Technology (2009) and with his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas (2013) in Materials Science and Engineering. Taylor completed postdoctoral training (2013-2015) at the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. His research interests include biomaterials, liquid crystal materials, living materials, flexible and stretchable electronics, and the interfacing of these technologies. Dr. Ware was a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2011), the Air Force Young Investigator Award (2017), and the NSF CAREER award (2018). He is also a member of several professional societies, co-inventor of three awarded patents, and author or co-author of more than 50 scientific publications.

  • R. Alta Charo

    R. Alta Charo (Harvard, BA biology 1979; Columbia, JD law 1982) is a 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellow at CASBS, and the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, writing on medical ethics and biotechnology regulatory policy. In government, she served as a legal analyst for the former congressional Office of Technology Assessment, policy analyst for the US Agency for International Development and senior policy advisor in the FDA’s Office of the Commissioner. She was a member of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission under President Clinton, and the transition team for President Obama. Charo is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and co-chaired its committee on Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research and its 2017 committee on Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics and Governance. At present, she is a member of the World Health Organization’s committee on global governance of genome editing, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Biosecurity Innovation and Risk Reduction project, and of the steering committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s effort to revise and expand its guidelines for ethical research, including research on chimeras and organoids.

  • Emiley Eloe-Fadrosh

    Dr. Eloe-Fadrosh joined the JGI in 2014 to pursue her research interests in microbial ecology and metagenomics. Her current research focuses on leveraging thousands of metagenomic datasets from host-associated and environmental samples to identify novel microbial life and viral diversity. Prior to joining the JGI, she was a Bioinformatics Program Fellow at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the Marine Microbiology Initiative. She conducted her postdoctoral training in human microbiome research at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She stepped into the Metagenome Program lead position in 2017. She additionally leads the National Microbiome Data Collaborative, a multi-lab partnership that support microbiome data exploration through a sustainable data discovery platform that promotes open science across a broad and diverse community of researchers, funders, publishers, and scientific societies.

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