Press Release:

Principles of Gene Circuit Design

The Casa Matemática Oaxaca (CMO) will host the "Principles of Gene Circuit Design" workshop from September 10th to September 15th, 2017.

The increasing sophistication and power of synthetic biology to analyze and reconstruct genetic circuits has developed in parallel to the more computational approach of gene regulatory networks’ inference from large genomic datasets. Revolutionary techniques using single-cell approaches such as single-cell imaging, single-cell metabolomics and single-cell genomics are helping merge these previously separated fields. Through its many applications single cell studies, genomics and synthetic biology are beginning to be used in medical contexts, but there is a growing recognition that circuit level problems are limiting our ability to predictively design therapeutic strategies.

Several generations of oscillators and genetic switches have been built in order to work with diverse cellular components and regulatory mechanisms that can also interact with “natural” gene circuits. Complex metabolic pathways have been engineered to produce useful products, and signaling pathways have been rewired to alter their dynamic behaviors in predictable ways. However, synthetic biology remains extremely primitive owing both to technical challenges and, even more, to fundamental inadequacies in our understanding of biological circuit design. As the successes of synthetic biology become more impressive, the field moves towards building biochemical circuits with more challenging and complex functions. Engineering new circuits without understanding how they work is potentially dangerous and can lead to the accidental creation of unwanted functions, creating potential biohazards.

The Casa Matemática Oaxaca (CMO) in Mexico, and the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) in Banff, are collaborative Canada-US-Mexico ventures that provide an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station in Banff is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT). The research station in Oaxaca is funded by CONACYT.

BIRS Scientific Director, Nassif Ghoussoub
E-mail: birs-director[@]