Michael Elowitz (Caltech)

Michael Elowitz (Caltech)

Butler Seminar Series

Event Date/Location

April 10, 2019 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Thomas Laboratory 003


  • Dr. Michael Elowitz

    Michael Elowitz


    Michael Elowitz is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, and Applied Physics at Caltech. Dr. Elowitz's laboratory has introduced synthetic biology approaches to build and understand genetic circuits in living cells and tissues. Elowitz developed the Repressilator, an artificial genetic clock that generates gene expression oscillations in individual E. coli cells, and since then has continued to design and build synthetic genetic circuits for programming or rewiring cellular functions. His lab showed that gene expression is intrinsically stochastic, or ‘noisy’, and revealed how this noise functions to enable a variety of cellular functions, from probabilistic differentiation to time-based regulation. Currently, Elowitz’s lab is bringing synthetic “build to understand” approaches to the level of multicellular development, focusing on cell-cell communication, epigenetic memory and cell fate control. Elowitz received his PhD from Princeton University, and did a postdoctoral at Rockefeller University. Honors include the HFSP Nakasone Award, MacArthur, Packard and Searle Fellowships, Presidential Early Career Award, BWF CASI Award, Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, and election to EMBO and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Protein circuit designs for computation and communication

Circuits of interacting proteins perform a variety of "computational" functions in living cells. They allow cells to encode and decode signals, store information, and compute responses to complex stimuli. What design principles allow natural protein circuits to perform these functions effectively? How can we design synthetic protein circuits that provide similar or totally new functionality? We will explore emerging paradigms of natural and synthetic protein circuit design in mammalian cells. A major focus will be on core intercellular communication pathways such as BMP and Notch which use multiple promiscuously interacting ligands and receptors to, counter-intuitively, enable specificity. I will also discuss control of spatial morphogenetic patterning in the Hedgehog pathway, and new synthetic approaches for designing new protein-level circuit functions


Free and open to the university community and the public.


Jared Toettcher, Department of Molecular Biology