Biosynthetic Pathway Design Collaborative

The future demands new sustainable manufacturing solutions for high-value chemical compounds in biomedicine, biofuel, and nutrition. The biosynthesis of natural products in fast-growing, densely culturable microorganisms has become an attractive route for more efficient, greener chemistry. Such “microbial cell factories” aim to improve upon less efficient extractions from natural resources and avoid the use of environmentally toxic solvents and non-renewable reagents typical of organic syntheses.

We are building a new collaborative initiative in synthetic biology driven by recent advances in our own labs and embracing a spirit of team-based science. Moving beyond the creation of a few bespoke pathways by a handful of well-resourced laboratories requires new approaches for accelerated programmatic engineering of biosynthesis. We are developing predictive computational tools and “design rules” that can limit the space of possible variants that must be explored, directing our experimental effort towards high-yield and catalytically diverse solution spaces. By coupling advances in the basic science of bacterial physiology with new tools in deep learning, cell simulation, and bacterial genetics we aim to transform the process of cellular engineering.

The Environment

Green Center for Systems Biology facilitates rich interactions with colleagues in bacterial genetics, machine learning, statistical physics, high-resolution microscopy, and image analysis. Our position as part of a major academic medical center further presents ample opportunity for collaboration with clinicians and medicinal chemists. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center offers over 40 core facilities in cryo-electron microscopy, metabolomics, crystallographic structure determination, high-throughput small molecule screening, high resolution microscopy, next-generation sequencing and more.