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Matt Rhodes/MEDILL

Synthetic biology - A medical lab in a cell

by Matt Rhodes
Nov 08, 2012


Matt Rhodes/MEDILL

Post-doctoral fellow William A. Rodriguez transforms yeast DNA to make insulin.

Synthetic biology at Northwestern University is reprogramming the DNA of simple yeast cells so that testing for HIV or other diseases may become as simple as getting results from a home pregnancy test. Here are the many wonders of an emerging field at the chemical and biological engineering labs at  Northwestern. The lab is currently working on health care innovations and pushing the possibilities of the field. Down the road, synthetic biology may hold far-reaching potential, such as reducing cancer into something as mundane as the common cold. Meet Keith Tyo, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, who heads up the synthetic biology lab at Northwestern and Ph.D. student Karthik Sekar, who works in Tyo's lab.