Principles of Gene Circuit Design (17w5143)

Arriving in Oaxaca, Mexico Sunday, September 10 and departing Friday September 15, 2017


Aleksandra Walczak (CNRS - LPTENS)


(California Institute of Technology)

(Universidad de Buenos Aires)



There is a clear need for a workshop to discuss the principles of gene circuit design and given that some of us attended the 2011 Workshop on Stochasticity in Biochemical Reaction Networks at the Banff International research station, we think that a similar format would be excellent for a 2016 workshop in the new Oaxaca research station. The increasing sophistication and power of synthetic biology to analyze and reconstruct genetic circuits has developed in parallel to the more computational approach of gene regulatory networks’ inference from large genomic datasets. Revolutionary techniques using single-cell approaches such as single-cell imaging, single-cell metabolomics and single-cell genomics are helping merge these previously separated fields. Through its many applications single cell studies, genomics and synthetic biology are beginning to be used in medical contexts, but there is a growing recognition that circuit level problems are limiting our ability to predictively design therapeutic strategies. As these fields leap forward, many critical questions arise:

• Bring together scientists whose research fundamentally depends on understanding different forms of genetic circuitry that ranges from inferring networks using large datasets to signaling networks, metabolic networks, cellular networks and the design of synthetic circuits.

• What set of rules could exemplify design similarities between genetic circuits implemented in different biological systems and performing different biological functions? • What are the key physical principles that limit and allow for the encoding of regulatory function and are they conserved by evolution?

• What computational/experimental tools are necessary to leap forward towards generating the predictable synthetic metabolic circuits that are fundamental to produce new medicines and biofuels?

• Discuss a possible DREAM competition testing the predictions of models inferred from genome-wide data with data generated from single cell dynamics. How could we implement a computational platform to build models and test their predictions?

What types of genetic circuit designs are capable of implementing different cellular behaviors, and what trade-offs exist between different designs?

The conference will bring together many of the pioneers and leading experts in these diverse fields for a few days of extensive, interdisciplinary and informal discussion. Our goal is to create a forum where knowledge is shared, hoping that this diverse community will discuss how the lack of understanding of design principles is limiting the advancement of genetic circuit engineering and help define together the agenda for understanding genetic circuit design.