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Contact: Peter Genzer, (631) 344-3174  |  Written by Joe Gettlershare:

BSA Distinguished Lecture on Monday, 8/20: 'A Pressure Test to Evaluate Engineering Biology: 10 Molecules, 90 Days. Go.'

Ben Gordon

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Ben Gordon, director of the MIT-Broad Foundry

UPTON, NEW YORK—Ben Gordon, director of a genetic design center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will present a BSA Distinguished Lecture at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Monday, Aug. 20. Gordon's talk will be held at 4 p.m. in Berkner Hall. It will highlight the MIT-Broad Foundry Gordon leads and is titled "A Pressure Test to Evaluate Engineering Biology: 10 Molecules, 90 Days. Go."

Biological engineers program living cells to carry out specific tasks, such as building complex molecules and materials, or indicating subtle changes in their surroundings. The resulting organisms have applications in many areas, ranging from therapeutics and chemicals to agriculture, biosensing, and environmental remediation.

The tools for genetic design, however, are still somewhat in their infancy, considering their potential uses in the future. Gordon’s team at the Foundry is working to address challenges by developing next-generation tools and methods for biological design. This "biofoundry" facility is located at MIT and is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

During his talk, Gordon will describe the Foundry’s performance on a "pressure test" that DARPA created to assess its ability to rapidly develop biotechnologies. The challenge was to design biological systems to make 10 diverse molecules in only 90 days. The molecules ranged from industrial chemicals to intricate, plant-derived drugs to treat cancer. Gordon will discuss the Foundry’s approaches and successes, as well as how the test results highlighted important technology gaps in the field, suggesting areas to prioritize for future research.

About the Speaker

MIT-Broad Foundry Director Ben Gordon earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical engineering at Caltech. He did his postdoctoral training in systems biology and bioinformatics at MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Before MIT, Gordon led systems biology product design and business development efforts at Agilent Technologies, focusing on bioinformatics, machine learning, and integrative methods.

About BSA Distinguished Lectures

BSA Distinguished Lectures are sponsored by Brookhaven Science Associates, the company that manages Brookhaven Lab, to present topics of general interest to the Laboratory community and the public. These lectures are free and open to the public. All visitors to the Laboratory 16 and older must bring a photo ID.

This lecture is scheduled to be webcast live on WBNL.

The Laboratory is located on William Floyd Parkway, one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway.

For more information, call (631) 344-2345.

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