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[Seminar] Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology for improved biotechnological production: promises and realities

Eleftherios Terry Papoutsakis, University of Delaware

When 24 Mar, 2017 from
10:00 am to 11:00 am
Where Auditorium
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Title: Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology for improved biotechnological production: promises and realities

Speaker: Eleftherios Terry Papoutsakis

Affiliation: University of Delaware

Host: Paula M. Alves Lab - Cell Bioprocesses | Animal Cell Technology Unit



Metabolic engineering (ME) emerged as an autonomous research activity in the late 1980s, at the point where genetic manipulation of cellular pathways became possible.  Both experimental and computational tools were developed over the next 20 years to the point that one could confidently undertake the development of an engineered organism to produce a novel chemical or improve the production of a native metabolite. Industrial processes slowly emerged, and the field achieved increased recognition and respect. ME should not be confused with the development of genetically modified animal cells to produce therapeutic or diagnostic proteins, an activity that developed in parallel with ME, but led to the enormous, in impact and value, biopharmaceuticals industry. Some 15-20 years later, in the early 2000s, Synthetic Biology (SB) emerged as another enterprise based on the ability to modify (the new word now was “edit”) DNA. In the beginning, there was a marked confusion: was SB different from ME, and if so, how and why? As the field moved forward, a combination of “political” and scientific advances gave SB a distinct character, but yet with large overlap with ME. SB became more sophisticated on engineering complex traits based on engineered regulatory components and focusing largely in non-pathway dependent traits, but also on generating precise DNA editing tools. I will discuss what is the present reality in terms of practical applications, aiming to separate hype from reality.


Short Bio

Since 2007, E. Terry Papoutsakis is Eugene DuPont Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He received his undergraduate education at the Nat. Technical Univ. of Athens, Greece, and his MS & PhD from Purdue University. He started his academic career at Rice University before moving to Northwestern University where he was appointed as Walter P. Murphy Professor. He moved to his current position in 2007. His group has made important contributions in the areas of clostridia genetics and metabolic engineering; animal-cell biotechnology; & stem-cell bioengineering. He is widely recognized as a leader in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology of industrial clostridia. His lab is interested in developing strains of industrial importance in the biorenewables arena. His group was one of the first to recognize the importance of and study the fundamental mechanisms, both fluid-mechanical and biological, underlying cell injury and death due to mixing and aeration in animal-cell bioreactors. He pioneered several bioprocessing issues in stem-cell biotechnologies. Most recently, he is working on developing cell and gene-therapy technologies based on extracellular vesicles, and separately on biotechnologies to convert natural gas to liquid fuel. He has trained 66 PhD, 30 MS, & 32 postdoctoral students. His research has been funded by $35+ millions of federal grants.  He has published over 250 papers (receiving 16000 citations with a 73 h-factor), and has 18+ issued or pending patents. He has received numerous awards, and most recently the American Chemical Society’s E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, which will be presented to him in April 2017.

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