Julius Lucks


Julius Lucks

Cornell University
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Julius B. Lucks is Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. His research combines both experiment and theory to ask fundamental questions about the design principles that govern how RNAs fold and function in living organisms, and how these principles can be used to engineer biomolecular systems. As a Miller Fellow, he pioneered the development of first RNA-based synthetic genetic circuits, and was the leader of the team that created SHAPE-Seq – a technology that uses next generation sequencing to characterize RNA structures in unprecedented throughput, and that is now being used to uncover the role of RNA structure in regulating fundamental cellular processes across the genome. His lab focuses on dynamically programming cellular behavior with synthetic RNA circuitry, and using/developing SHAPE-Seq to understand RNA folding dynamics in the cell. For his pioneering research efforts, he has been named a DARPA Young Faculty Awardee, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, an ONR Young Investigator, and an NIH New Innovator.

Research interests: In the Cold Spring Harbor Synthetic Biology Course, Lucks leads the module on the rapid design and characterization of synthetic RNA circuitry. In this module, students learn to i) use cell-free transcription-translation (TX-TL) systems to rapidly characterize the dynamics of genetic circuitry, ii) use computational modeling to interpret experiments, and iii) to design genetic circuitry to perform a specific task (i.e. turn genes on in a specified temporal order). The module is fast paced, with the design-test cycle lasting only a matter of hours, allowing students to rapidly explore and test circuit architectures. The module moves from idea to test in a matter of a few hours! In past courses, research from this module has generated some of the first evidence of the speed of RNA genetic circuits, which were shown to propagate signals in a mere matter of minutes.


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