This summer, we were delighted to host Angela Pinon, Yves-Langston Mays, and Rodolfo Gutiérrez-García in our lab for some very exciting research as part of various Research Experiences for Undergraduates. Angela joined as part of the Bionetworks REU and Yves came from the NEWT REU. Huge thanks to Macla and Robin for their mentorship over the summer (Photo below of Macla, Robin, and Angela)
Last but not least, Rodolfo continued his project in the lab with support from the Biosciences Summer Research Institute, showing his progress in his poster, "Establishment of bioprospecting pipeline for novel antibiotics through Streptomyces isolation from gall-forming wasps." Huge thanks to Drew for their mentorship over the summer.
Introducing ...(drum roll)...Dr. Ameruoso who successfully defended his Ph.D.!!! Andrea joined the lab as our first official graduate student at the end of 2017. He pioneered the laboratories efforts to genetically program Streptomyces for natural product discovery. As a founding member of the lab, he has been instrumental in establishing the lab and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors!
As is tradition for newly minted graduate students at Rice, Andrea took part in a tie-cutting ceremony (bottom photo), the remains of which you will find pinned up in the valhalla bar at Rice.
Bacteria can synthesize a staggering repertoire of complex chemical molecules with valuable properties. While a large repertoire of uncharacterized natural products exists, a critical barrier to their discovery is that bacteria do not synthesize these chemicals when grown in the laboratory. In our latest publication in NAR, we created new synthetic transcription factors based upon CRISPR-Cas systems that can be used to reprogram cells into natural product synthesizing phenotypes.
Great to have our methods in molecular biology book out on riboregulator design and analysis! Was really great fun to work with Melissa Takahashi (https://takahashi-lab.org/) on editing this book — an amazing scientist and former colleague. Also lots of thanks to all the chapter contributions from leading RNA biologists and engineers! Really happy with how the edition turned out!
We want to welcome to the lab Robin Mo and Malyn Selinidis from the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Graduate Program, and Ashley Robinson from the Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology Graduate Program.
We look forward to having you in the lab!
Great evening at Rice Natural Science Science Cafe event. Science cafe is an open to the public science event talking about the latest developments in science and what will be possible in the future. Was really great to present alongside two of my favorite synthetic biologists (Matt Bennett and Joff Silberg).
Cientificos.pe is a non-profit organization that aims to support upcoming and current Peruvian scientists. They recently featured our very own Maria Villegas Kcam, who grew up in Piura, Peru. To see the full thread, click the link below!
Translation: "Good morning science lovers! For our #peruvianpaper and scientific profile of this week, we want to share an article published in @NAR_Open by @MaClaVK #PeruScience"
This past weekend, the lab travelled to Northwestern University to attend the Central US Synthetic Biology Workshop. We were proud to present our research during the poster sessions and lightning talks:
The conference included a great keynote speech given by Rice's own, Dr. Caroline Ajo-Franklin, along with other fascinating talks on cutting-edge synthetic biology research. We hope to be back next year!
Chappell lab receives an NSF award focused on engineering sentinel cells that sense and respond to diseases
Cells can be programmed to sense infectious agents and, in response, actuate biomolecular programs to alert, protect the host, or destroy the pathogenic target. Engineering cells in this manner would provide a transformative approach to address the threat of emerging viral diseases. The Chappell lab hopes to contribute to these efforts. In a collaborative effort the Chappell and Segatori labs were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a novel RNA detection platform for programming cells. We are very excited to contribute to these efforts by NSF!
The ability of cells to reliably replicate and maintain genomic information is a key facet of life. Recapitulating these mechanisms is a critical step towards the development of autonomous synthetic cells that exhibit self-replication and stable propagation of their genetic information. The Chappell Lab hopes to address this. In a collaborative effort the Chappell, Lakin, Davenport, and Frow labs were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a synthetic DNA replication control system. We are very excited to contribute to the grand challenging of constructing a synthetic cell and understanding the rules of life !
A major challenge in understanding the risk of synthetic microbial technologies is the lack of simple tools for monitoring gene transfer from these microbes to environmental consortia. To address this, the Chappell, Silberg, Stadler, and Masiello labs at Rice university were awarded a Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research (BRAG) grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a new framework for monitoring and predicting gene transfer from synthetic microbes to environmental microbial communities in soil. This project leverages several exciting synthetic biology innovations from our team, and builds upon the growing community at Rice working at the interface of synthetic biology and environmental science.
The Chappell lab welcomes Andrea Garza Elizondo and August Staubus joining from the Biochemistry and Cell Biology (BCB) graduate program here in the BioScience department at Rice.
The Chappell lab was awarded a Welch Foundation research grant to support our work in creating new synthetic biology technologies for eliciting bacterial natural product synthesis. The Welch Foundation is the nation's largest funding source for basic chemical research and it is a great honor to be supported by them. Read more about the Welch Foundation here and see 2019 list of awards here.
James and Baiyang teach at the 2019 Synthetic Biology Course at Cold Spring Harbor Labs. Great year at CSHL exploring new ideas with students and hearing awesome talks from researchers in the field. Fantastic group of students this year and an amazing speaker line up! More details about this years course can be found here (https://cshlsynbio.wordpress.com/).
Milestone for the lab — our first paper. We are excited to publish our first Chappell lab paper in the special Synthetic Biology Edition of Current Opinion in Systems Biology. Our review covers exciting recent developments in the RNA synthetic biology field and some of our favorite papers from the last few years. Check out our paper "Brave new ‘RNA’ world—advances in RNA tools and their application for understanding and engineering biological systems".
James and Andrea teach at the 2018 Synthetic Biology Course at Cold Spring Harbor Labs. This course has been running for 5 years now and brings 16 scientists together for a crash course in Syn Bio. James and Andrea taught this years Cohort about Cell-free transcription and translation systems (TX-TL) and RNA-based genetic circuits. Check out the CSHL website for more details.
James is selected as a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Computational and Evolutionary Molecular Biology. Awarded yearly since 1955, the fellowships is awards to 126 researchers in 8 fields in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.