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Research - Desmond Lun

Desmond Lun

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Research

Computer design of biofuel microbes

The production of cheap, clean, renewable energy is one of the world's most pressing problems. And microbes are a potential solution. Microbes have naturally evolved the ability to perform complex chemical transformations. They can grow off sugars, inedible plant matter, or even directly off carbon dioxide and solar energy, and they can produce ethanol or more readily-usable fuels such as biodiesel and biogasoline. Unfortunately, naturally-occuring microbes are not optimized for biofuel production and must be engineered for this purpose.

We are engineering microbes optimized for biofuel production using an approach that is grounded in mathematical modeling and computational design. This engineering involves substantially modifying natural microbial genomes, and we are using GDLS and GDBB, computer design tools we have developed, to direct how genomes should be modified. Our work is focused specifically on the bacterium Escherichia coli, the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002, and the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum.

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Systems biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a deadly infectious disease that, in 2007, was responsible for 1.8 million deaths worldwide. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of tuberculosis, faciliated by the alarming emergence of drug-resistant strains. Thus, the need for new drugs to protect against the possibility of future epidemics and to combat current infections is acute.

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). We use computer modeling to identify and analyze new drug targets in MTB, to identify the mechanism of current drugs, and to understand MTB's ability to survive in human hosts.

Related publications


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Last modified on 20 November 2012