The Allen School’s groundbreaking research in Molecular Programming & Synthetic Biology blends computation and biology to advance exciting new capabilities for data storage, search and retrieval using synthetic DNA; biological control circuits to support new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of disease; and programmable nano-scale devices to power a new generation of chips that integrate biosensors with optics and electronics. Our research takes inspiration from nature to develop new architectures and computational processes that are faster, more efficient, and more durable than what has come before.
Also check out the Allen School's work in Computational Biology.
Molecular Information Systems Lab
The Molecular Information Systems Lab (MISL), led by professors Luis Ceze, Jeff Nivala and Karin Strauss, is a partnership between the University of Washington and Microsoft that brings together faculty, students and research scientists with expertise in computer architecture, programming languages, synthetic biology and biochemistry. The lab explores the intersection of information technology and molecular-level manipulation through in-silico and wet lab experiments, including projects related to DNA-based archival data storage, synthetic biology, molecular circuits, microfluidics animation, and nanopore-based sensing.
Seelig Lab for Synthetic Biology
The Seelig Lab brings together researchers from the Allen School and the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering to advance our understanding of how biological organisms process information using complex biochemical networks and how to engineer those networks to program cellular behavior. The goal of their work, which integrates the design of molecular circuitry in the test tube and in the cell with the investigation of existing biological pathways, is to engineer biological control circuits with DNA and RNA components that can enable new diagnostics and therapeutics.
Thachuk Lab for Molecular Programming
The Thachuk Lab pursues interdisciplinary research applying fundamental principles from computer science and engineering to the creation of programmable matter at the nanoscale using biomolecules such as DNA. The goal is to harness such biomolecules’ chemical processes, structure, density and efficiency to enable the design and development of new molecular information processing architectures from the ground up.
News & Highlights
- Jeff Nivala joins the Allen School faculty in spring 2021 as a research professor in the MISL.
- “Small moon” shapes allow DNA devices to attach in precise orientations: Chris Thachuk and colleagues at California Institute of Technology and the University of British Columbia published a paper in Science,/a> describing a solution for achieving absolute orientation of DNA origami shapes on nanoscale devices.
- Microbial single-cell RNA sequencing by split-pool barcoding: Members of the Seelig Lab and their UW collaborators published a paper in Science presenting microSPLIT, short for microbial split-pool ligation transcriptomics — a new low-cost, high-throughput single-cell RNA sequencing method for analyzing bacteria.
- Porcupine molecular tagging system offers sharp contrast to conventional inventory control systems: In a paper published in Nature Communications, MISL researchers describe a new molecular tagging system that can be programmed and read within seconds using a portable nanopore device.
- Professor Chris Thachuk joins the Allen School faculty in fall 2020.
- #MemoriesInDNA portrait project blends DNA technology and art to memorialize pioneering scientist Rosalind Franklin: MISL researchers teamed up with Seattle-based artist Kate Thompson to create a multimedia portrait of Rosalind Franklin, the scientist responsible for capturing the first image revealing the helical shape of DNA, using a combination of photos preserved in synthetic DNA.
- "DNA domino" architecture created by members of the Seelig Lab and Microsoft Research to enable fast and modular DNA-based computing is featured in Nature Nanotechnology.