2024 Investiture Information

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Special Seminar: Illuminating Inner Depths



12:00pm - 1:00pm ET


Meeting ID: 945 3678 9368
Passcode: 018857

Engineering living materials to monitor transient gastrointestinal biomarkers in real-time.

The inner workings of the human gut remain one of the final frontiers of science. In particular, the gastrointestinal (GI) microenvironment is poorly understood. This dynamic environment defines how gut bacteria build communities, which exercise profound influence on health and disease. However, we lack the tools to explore it. Rapid advances in synthetic biology are harnessing the information-processing abilities of living cells to diagnose disease in such difficult-to-access environments. For example, intestinal microbes can be genetically rewired to sense short-lived mediators of inflammation, such as nitric oxide (NO).

Here, I'll show the power of synthetic memory circuits to engineer living bacterial probes that can record NO exposure as they travel through the GI tract. We engineered bacteria to respond to NO by luminescing and then packaged 1 μL of the bacterial culture in an ingestible capsule with a photodetector and radio. We demonstrated real-time monitoring in the GI tract of small and large animal models and integration of all components into a blueberry-size capsule capable of wireless communication. These technologies open up exciting new opportunities to unlock a wealth of information about the body's function, its relationship with the environment, and the impact of disease and therapeutic interventions.

About the Speaker(s)

Eugenia Inda
PEW Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT

Eugenia Inda

Eugenia Inda is working in the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT engineering living materials to diagnose disorders in the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Since 2018, she served in the MIT CommLab and started and leads the MIT Microbiome Journal Club. She is a recipient of the Award for Early Career Environmental Research from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the Langer Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Excellence from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the EMBO/EMBL SynBio-Poster Award, and ASM's first Agar Art Contest Award. Outside the lab, she loves capturing beauty with her Nikon D3400 camera.


For more information, contact Ashley Parker at ashley.l.parker@dartmouth.edu.