Dr. Voigt will describe the development of the first language to program cells. The function of electronic chips can be encoded in DNA and run by the cell. This allows computational control over biological processes; in other words, defining the conditions for different genes to be turned on and controlling how the cell responds to its environment. This can be used to introduce control algorithms into cells producing chemicals in a fermenter, survey soil conditions and control plant growth, or navigate the human body as a living therapeutic.


Dr Chris Voigt is a Professor of Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also the Chair for the MIT-Broad Foundry and Co-Director for the Synthetic Biology Centre (SBC) at MIT. Dr Voigt earned his PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the California Institute of Technology and continued his postdoctoral research in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT in 2011, he was with the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California-San Francisco.

Dr Voigt’s research interest lies in developing new experimental and theoretical methods to push the scale of genetic engineering, with the ultimate objective of genome design that will impact the engineering of biology for a broad range of applications, including agriculture, materials, chemicals, and medicine. He is the Editor-In-Chief of ACS Synthetic Biology as well as the Founder and Chair of the SEED (Synthetic Biology, Engineering, Evolution & Design) Conference Series. In 2007, he was described by The Scientist as “Biology’s toy maker”.