Engineering living matter with precision has always been a difficult endeavor given the inherent complexities of the genome, cellular structures, and multicellularity. In the face of this challenge, bioengineers have developed new methods for rapid design and prototyping in and out of cells. The invention of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s at Stanford has enabled medicine, agriculture, and industry with a new toolbox of biological parts to engineer products to better our world. In this course, students will explore both historical techniques in biotechnology and methods for engineering cells, as well as current tools and frameworks for precise molecular and cellular engineering.
Students will split time between lecture and lab sections to learn the state-of-the-art in biotechnology, including DNA design, protein evolution, RNA engineering, and genome editing. In lecture, we will explore the biotechnology industry and current advances from industry leaders in the Bay area, ethics of certain biotechnologies, and the rise of biohacking and do-it-yourself biology. The lab component will allow students to explore their own designs encoded in DNA to develop a paper-based assay to detect a certain biomarker of their choice. Students will then implement the bioengineering design cycle for their novel designs and testing, with final projects to present their findings and iterations of their diagnostic devices.