2018 Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) is coming to Arizona

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Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) is an annual conference that has been hosted in different cities since 2014: Manhattan Beach, CA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; and Vancouver, Canada. This year the rapidly growing, highly-visible meeting will take place in Scottsdale, AZ! SEED 2018 will focus on advances in science, technology, applications, and related investments in the field of synthetic biology. This year’s theme will be “synthetic biology at the leading edge of massive DNA synthesis, editing, and decoding.”

The Meeting Chairs are Karmella Haynes (ASU) and Ryan Gill (UC Boulder).

Keynote speakers will include Jim Collins (MIT), Jay Keasling (UC Berkeley), Floyd Romesberg (Scripps), and Pam Ronald (UC Davis).

The call for poster abstracts is open until May 26, 2018.

If you are interested in supporting the conference, please visit the webpage, SEED: Become a Sponsor or Exhibitor, for more information.

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Haynes lab undergad researcher Jiaqi Wu receives prestigous Bidstrup Fellowship

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Jiaqi Wu, a computer science major who is fascinated with computational biology and bioinformatics, has been awarded a prestigious Bidstrup Undergraduate Fellowship for academic year 2017 – 2018.  This award is a testament to the outstanding commitment to academic excellence made by Jiaqi and Dr. Haynes as a faculty-student team. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Haynes to present research at EpiBio 2017

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Dr. Haynes has been invited to present her research at the International Conference on Epigenetics and Bioengineering (EpiBio 2017) in Miami, FL. The conference is presented by the Society of Biological Engineering (SBE). EpiBio 2017 is a forum for engineers and scientists who are applying  bioengineering to the area of epigenetics and chromatin. Dr. Haynes will present a talk entitled “Synthetic Readers and Writers of Chromatin to Advance Cell Engineering” on Wednesday, December 13.

Research – bioRxiv Pre-print – Histone modifications and active gene expression are associated with enhanced CRISPR activity in de-silenced chromatin

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Histone modifications and active gene expression are associated with enhanced CRISPR activity in de-silenced chromatin
Daer R, Barrett C, Haynes KA. (2017) bioRxiv. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/03/11/228601

CRISPR is a powerful and popular tool for editing DNA in living cells. Scientists are becoming more interested in using CRISPR to correct mistakes in DNA that lead to diseases, to artificially generate mutations to research the origins of diseases, and for other important applications. However, CRISPR originated in bacteria and has probably not evolved to function very well in genomes that are packed in configurations (open and closed chromatin) as complex as those found in human cells. In a recent report (Daer et al. 2017), we demonstrated that CRISPR activity was inhibited at a DNA sequence that became artificially condensed into closed chromatin. Our new study shows that targeted re-opening of closed chromatin leads to enhanced CRISPR activity in the same region. The epigenetic drug we tested (UNC1999) was not sufficient to generate a transcriptionally active or CRISPR-accessible state. In contrast, strong direct activation with a DNA-binding p65 protein did enhance CRISPR accessibility. Importantly, we learned that a recovery period (following treatment with p65) is needed to generate the CRISPR-accessible state.

Congratulations to the ASU 2017 iGEM Team

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The 2017 ASU International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) team brought home a Gold medal and two nominations for competitive prizes. The team presented their project “EVR QST: Engineering Variable Regulators for a Quorum Sensing Toolbox” to a panel of judges (academic, policy, and industry professionals) and an international audience. The 2017 iGEM Giant Jamboree took place in Boston, MA at the Hynes Convention Center on November 9 – 13, 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Haynes to Present CRISPR Research at SERMACS in North Carolina

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Dr. Haynes has been invited to present her group’s latest research on the efficacy of CRISPR editing of human DNA at the 2017 Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS (SERMACS) Synthetic Biology Symposium on Thursday, November 9, 2017 in Charlotte, NC. Using a synthetic, regulatable DNA packing system Dr. Haynes and her team, including lead grad student Rene Daer, discovered that chromatin structures similar to those found at stem cell genes can block CRISPR from access to DNA (Daer et al 2017 ACS Synthetic Biology; featured on PRI Science Friday). This can pose a problem for gene therapy and tissue engineering. In her talk “Manipulation of chromatin to enhance CRISPR activity” Dr. Haynes will present a review of these findings as well as recent results from experiments to counteract chromatin and enhance CRISPR activity. The NIH NCI Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program (GMaP) provided an award to support Dr. Haynes’ travel.

The Haynes lab receives ASU-Illumina Mini Grant

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Dr. Haynes has been awarded a mini-grant for RNA-seq analysis of cancer cells that have been treated with a synthetic protein that her group has engineered. Stefan Tekel, a PhD student in the Biological Design Program, is credited for the work that lies at the heart of this project. He engineered a cell-penetrating version of the protein that can be produced at low cost in E. coli bacteria, purified, and then added (as a solution) directly to cancer cells. The group aims to use the RNA-seq to apply for a major grant in the near future.