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Personal profile

Research Interests

Our research group is motivated by a desire to understand, harness, and expand the capabilities of biological systems for compelling applications in medicine, materials, and energy. Specifically, we focus on designing, constructing, and modifying biological systems involved in protein synthesis and metabolism to (i) understand why nature’s designs work the way they do and (ii) open the way to products that have been impractical, if not impossible, to produce by other means. An innovative feature of our research program is the use of cell-free systems. The foundational principle is that we can conduct precise, complex biomolecular transformations without using intact cells, which provides an unprecedented and otherwise unattainable freedom of design to modify and control biological systems. For example, cell-free systems avoid the need to balance the tug-of-war that exists between the cell’s physiological and evolutionary objectives and the engineer’s process objectives. We are also pioneering new directions to repurpose the translation apparatus for synthetic biology. The goal is to monitor, interrogate, and understand the process of translation, and with this knowledge diversify, evolve and repurpose the ribosome and its peripheral machinery into a re-engineered machine to generate non-natural polymers as new classes of sequence-defined, evolvable matter. 

Our research activities are structured into four thrust areas: (1) cell-free protein synthesis and orthogonal translation systems, (2) engineered ribosomes, (3) metabolic engineering, and (4) glycosylation. These research areas are connected by approach (e.g., cell-free systems) and their focus on biocatalytic systems (e.g., the translation apparatus). They advance new understanding of biological knowledge and develop enabling technologies for the production of therapeutics, biomaterials, and biochemicals. 


Education/Academic qualification

Chemical Engineering, PhD, Stanford University

… → 2005

Chemical Engineering, MS, Stanford University

… → 2001

Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering specialization (summa cum laude), BS, University of California, Los Angeles

… → 1999


  • Artificial life
  • Biotechnology
  • Metabolic control
  • Transcription factor-metabolite interactions
  • Metabolism
  • Integrated systems biology
  • Cellular physiology
  • Protein synthesis
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Synthetic biology
  • Cell-freebiology
  • Cancer

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the experts' scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Yeast Engineering & Materials Science
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Ribosomes Medicine & Life Sciences

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Research Output 2002 2018

3 Citations

A cell-free platform for rapid synthesis and testing of active oligosaccharyltransferases

Schoborg, J. A., Hershewe, J. M., Stark, J. C., Kightlinger, W., Kath, J. E., Jaroentomeechai, T., Natarajan, A., DeLisa, M. P. & Jewett, M. C. Mar 1 2018 In : Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 115, 3, p. 739-750 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citations

A Pressure Test to Make 10 Molecules in 90 Days: External Evaluation of Methods to Engineer Biology

Casini, A. , Chang, F. Y. , Eluere, R. , King, A. M. , Young, E. M. , Dudley, Q. M. , Karim, A. , Pratt, K. , Bristol, C. , Forget, A. , Ghodasara, A. , Warden-Rothman, R. , Gan, R. , Cristofaro, A. , Borujeni, A. E. , Ryu, M. H. , Li, J. , Kwon, Y. C. , Wang, H. , Tatsis, E. & 7 others Rodriguez-Lopez, C., O'Connor, S., Medema, M. H., Fischbach, M. A., Jewett, M. C., Voigt, C. & Gordon, D. B. Mar 28 2018 In : Journal of the American chemical society. 140, 12, p. 4302-4316 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cell-Free System
Streptomyces coelicolor
4 Citations

Controlling cell-free metabolism through physiochemical perturbations

Karim, A. S., Heggestad, J. T., Crowe, S. A. & Jewett, M. C. Jan 1 2018 In : Metabolic Engineering. 45, p. 86-94 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Diversity of translation initiation mechanisms across bacterial species is driven by environmental conditions and growth demands

Hockenberry, A. J., Stern, A. J., Amaral, L. A. N. & Jewett, M. C. Jan 1 2018 In : Molecular Biology and Evolution. 35, 3, p. 582-592 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

translation (genetics)
environmental conditions
environmental factors
1 Citations

Expanding the palette of Streptomyces-based cell-free protein synthesis systems with enhanced yields

Li, J., Wang, H. & Jewett, M. C. Feb 15 2018 In : Biochemical Engineering Journal. 130, p. 29-33 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Protein Biosynthesis
Biological Products