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Serial 1: Synthetic Biology: A New Engine for the Third Wave of Biotechnology (Prof.Huimin Zhao, 6.5.2015)

Speaker: Prof.Huimin Zhao (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Title: Synthetic Biology: A New Engine for the Third Wave of Biotechnology

Time: 10:00am, May 6, 2015 

Place: Room C408, Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Science (TIB-CAS)

Abstract of the talk:

Synthetic biology is the deliberate design of novel or improved biological systems and organisms that draws on principles elucidated by biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers. It is a rapidly growing area with broad applications in medical, chemical, food, and agricultural industries and particularly has become a powerful engine for the exponential growth of the industrial biotechnology industry. In this talk, Prof. Huimin Zhao will briefly discuss the challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology and highlight his recent work in the development and application of novel foundational synthetic biology tools. Specifically, he will introduce the Illinois Biological Foundry for Advanced Biomanufacturing (iBioFAB) that they have been establishing and discuss its three representative biotechnological applications. The first application is the discovery, characterization, and engineering of novel natural product biosynthetic pathways for drug discovery and development. The second is the design, construction and optimization of biochemical pathways and microbial factories for economic production of chemicals and fuels.

Biography of the speaker:

Dr. Huimin Zhao is the Centennial Endowed Chair Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and professor of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He has authored and co-authored over 200 research articles and over 20 issued and pending patent applications with several being licensed by industry. He has received numerous awards and honors, including Elmer Gaden Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, AAAS Fellow, etc. He is the consultant for over 10 companies such as Pfizer and Gevo. Dr. Zhao is an Associate Editor of ACS Catalysis and an editor of ACS Synthetic Biology, Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, Scientific Reports, Biocatalysis, and Engineering in Life Sciences. His primary research interests are in the development and applications of synthetic biology tools to address society’s most daunting challenges in health, energy, and sustainability, and in the fundamental aspects of enzyme catalysis, cell metabolism, and gene regulation.

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