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About the Event: Synthetic Biology (SB) is one of the most promising fields of research for the 21st century. SB offers powerful new ways to improve human health, build the global economy, manufacture sustainable materials, and address climate change. However, current access to SBenabled breakthroughs is unequal, largely due to bottlenecks in infrastructure and education. Here, I describe our efforts to re-think the way we engineer biology using cell-free systems to address these bottlenecks. We show how the ability to readily store, distribute, and activate low-cost, freeze-dried cell-free systems by simply adding water has opened new opportunities for on-demand biomanufacturing of vaccines for global health, point-of-care diagnostics for environmental safety, and education for SB literacy and citizenship. By integrating cell-free systems with AI, we also show the ability to accelerate the production of carbon-negative platform chemicals. Looking forward, advances in engineering tools and new knowledge underpinning the fundamental science of living matter will ensure that SB helps solve humanity’s most pressing challenges.
About the Speaker: Michael Jewett is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. Dr. Jewett received his PhD in 2005 at Stanford University, completed postdoctoral studies at the Center for Microbial Biotechnology in Denmark and the Harvard Medical School, and was a guest professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). He is the recipient of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Camille-Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, among others. He is the co-founder of SwiftScale Biologics, Stemloop, Inc., Pearl Bio, Induro Therapeutics, and Design Pharmaceuticals. Jewett is a Fellow of AIMBE, AAAS, and NAI.