Harris Wang

Synthetic Biology, Accelerated Evolution, and Exploring Diversity in Biological Systems

Harris Wang

Harvard Medical School, Harvard University

Natural biological systems are composed of a vast number of individuals and cohorts interacting across various length and time scales to produce the macroscopic phenomena that we call life. Synthetic biology aims to construct novel biological systems through bottom-up synthesis and top-down engineering in order to unlock key aspects of biological complexity. Using enabling technologies in DNA synthesis and large-scale genome engineering and guided by computational models, we have undertaken efforts to recode life by systematic reassignment of codons in E.coli and to evolve organisms with novel properties through our GE-MASS platform for combinatorial, directed, and accelerated evolution in the laboratory. These evolved organisms have novel intracellular metabolic pathways and exist in synthetic ecosystems. Lessons from synthetic biology will guide future efforts to construct and evolve biological and biologically-inspired systems through modeling, computing, and engineering.


Harris Wang holds degrees from MIT in Physics and Applied Mathematics and is currently a member of Professor George Church?s research group at Harvard Medical School, focusing on developing novel and enabling technologies for synthetic biology that includes large-scale genome engineering, microarray-oligonucleotides, multiplex homologous recombination, DNA error-correction, and hierarchical genome assembly. Our research group leads the Center for Computational Genetics at Harvard in developing innovations in next-generation DNA sequencing, low-cost oligonucleotide and gene synthesis, and personal genomics, and has made numerous advancements in computational biology, systems biology and synthetic biology.