COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY is a prestigious, world-renowned research facility steeped in a rich history of biological discovery. Some of the most important milestones for our understanding of living things took place in labs within beautiful cottage-style buildings clustered around the harbor. CSHL has broadened its impact beyond the harbor by hosting a series of summer courses for visiting students and scientists.
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY is a discipline wherein living organisms are genetically programmed to carry out desired functions in a reliable manner. This field takes inspiration from our ever-expanding ability to measure and manipulate biological systems, and the philosophical reflections of Schrodinger and Feynman that physical laws can be used to describe and rationally engineer biology to accomplish useful goals. After all, cells are the world’s most sophisticated chemists, and their ability to learn to adapt to changing environments offer enormous potential to solving modern engineering challenges. Nonetheless, biological systems are noisy, massively interconnected, and non-linear, and have not evolved to be easily engineered. The grand challenge of synthetic biology is to reconcile the desire for a predictable, formalized biological design process with the inherent ‘squishiness’ of biology.
THE CSHL SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY SUMMER COURSE offers applicants the opportunity to learn techniques and perform research at the forefront of Synthetic Biology. The course will focus on how the complexity of biological systems, combined with traditional engineering approaches, results in the emergence of new design principles for synthetic biology. The Course centers around an immersive laboratory experience. Here, students will work in teams to learn the practical and theoretical underpinnings of cutting edge research in the area of Synthetic Biology.
Broadly, we will explore how cellular regulation – transcriptional, translational, post-translational, and epigenetic – can be used to engineer cells to accomplish well-defined goals. Specific laboratory modules will cover the following areas: genome engineering using CRISPR-based repression, cell-free transcription and translation systems to characterize genetic circuits and RNA regulators, modeling gene expression using ordinary differential equations, and high-throughput DNA assembly techniques and genetic design principles. Students will first learn essential synthetic biology techniques in a four-day ‘boot-camp’, and then rotate through research projects in select areas.
Each student will first learn essential synthetic biology techniques in a series of modules during a four-day ‘boot-camp’, and then rotate through longer research projects in two of the areas listed above. In addition, a panel of internationally-recognized invited speakers will give students a broad overview of applications for synthetic biology, including renewable chemical production and therapeutics, the current state-of-the-art techniques, and case studies in human practices and socially responsible innovation.
APPLYING FOR THE COURSE: Synthetic biology is an inherently interdisciplinary field. We encourage students of all backgrounds, whether the very biological or very theoretical, to apply. Please read the following information before applying: https://cshlsynbio.wordpress.com/application/