Computation & Neural Systems California Institute of Technology

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image Michael Elowitz
Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics; Bren Scholar Biophysics; Biocomputing

B.A., University of California, 1992 Ph.D., Princeton University, 1999

phone: 626-395-8871
location: 163 Broad
mail code: 114-96

research group |

Biophysics, Biocomputing, Gene Regulation, Variation in Living Cells
We are interested in how genetic circuits, composed of interacting genes and proteins, enable individual cells to make decisions, oscillate, and communicate with one another. To learn about these issues, we develop and use several experimental techniques:
  • We build our own synthetic genetic circuits and study their functions. These synthetic circuits are simpler counterparts to the complex circuits one finds in nature. This approach is often called "synthetic biology."
  • We make time-lapse movies to quantitatively observe dynamics of natural and synthetic genetic circuits in individual cells. These experiments take advantage of multiple fluorescent proteins to observe several parts of a circuit simultaneously in the same cell.
  • We study variability within cell populations, and try to understand how genetic circuits generate variability, through intrinsic noise, use such variability (for differentiation), or operate reliably in spite of variability.

Projects in the lab also make extensive use of relatively simple theoretical models of genetic circuits.


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