Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2021
Home Department: Bioengineering
Faculty Advisors: Xiaojing Gao (Chemical Engineering) and Possu Huang (Bioengineering)

Research Title: Humanized Molecular Sensors for the Extra- and Intra-Cellular Environments

Research Description: Mammalian (human) synthetic biology promises to deliver smart therapies for complex conditions like cancer, as well as tools for basic biology by rewiring existing or creating novel biological pathways. In these programs, receptors and other sensors feed information into molecular computation circuits, which decide appropriate responses. While modular computation and effector systems have been created with components sourced from the human genome, available sensors are lacking in modifiability, or are sourced from non-human genomes with potent immunogenicity. Kristjan proposes architectures for robust and modular genetically encoded humanized sensors for both extracellular proteins, as well as the intracellular transcriptional state.


Eerik has started a therapeutics company after graduating in Fall 2022, around a part of his Bio-X research project creating mRNAs whose expression can be targeted to specific cell types and states. mRNA therapeutics could be created with this technology to go after cells that are in a diseased state.