Lu Lab, MIT Synthetic Biology Center

Undergraduate Researcher, September 2019 - March 2020


My Project:

Gum disease affects half of adult Americans and can lead to cavities and potential bone loss. Current treatments include gum graft surgery which are only sometimes successful. Using a synthetic biology approach, I tested an in vitro approach to create gum grafts for long-term maintenance.

My Role:

Specifically, I expanded on previous work done by an undergraduate who built constitutively active plasmids showing fluorescence and expression of growth factors when successfully transduced into the target cells. I added NFkB sensitive regions to the plasmids that would express the downstream protein of interest only when activated by the B or T cells. Then, I combined parts of previous plasmids to produce combinations of growth factors to enhance regeneration.

Skills Developed:​

  • Design of synthetic biology gene circuits
  • Mammalian cell culture, molecular cloning, and lentivirus production
  • Analysis of biological data including fluorescence, flow cytometry, and PCR
  • Experimental problem solving
  • Integrating work into a larger project