(6iy) Expanding the Biosynthetic Potential of Living Systems | AIChE

(6iy) Expanding the Biosynthetic Potential of Living Systems


Marchand, J. - Presenter, University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests:

The ability to repurpose biomolecules has led to technology that forms the basis of a wide range of industries from biotech to food manufacturing to renewable fuels and plastics. Despite the relatively limited set of building blocks for constructing biomolecules, cells are able to achieve extraordinary functional complexity. Functional biomolecules such as carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids are constructed from as few as four monomeric units. However, they possess unique chemical properties that emerge from their ability to have their sequence encoded precisely by genetic and biosynthetic machinery. In contrast, synthetic molecules can contain an almost unlimited range of functional groups and be composed of any number of unique building blocks. Yet chemical synthesis remains limited by our technical ability to construct chiral and sequence-specific macromolecules at scale, a feat more easily accomplished by biological systems.

My research aims to use fundamental approaches in synthetic biology, chemical biology, biosynthesis, and biomolecular engineering in reprogramming life with the overall goal of developing new solutions to address challenges in medicine, materials, and the environment. Towards this goal, I seek to extend the chemical functionalities of the amino acid, nucleic acid, and carbohydrate building blocks available in living systems for biosynthesis through discovery and engineering of new enzymes and pathways that can be genetically encoded. The newly expanded metabolism will drive the cellular production of biological macromolecules with unique chemical and physical properties that can be used for diverse application that include manufacturing of antibody-drug conjugates, renewable bioplastics and fuels, and biomaterials. In this poster I will present approaches, challenges, and my previous work in this area.

Teaching Interests:

Graduate school has presented me with opportunities to teach both undergraduates and graduate students. While a graduate student, I was head Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for Biomolecular Engineering, a graduate-level chemical engineering course, and co-GSI for Technical Communication for Chemical Engineers. In Biomolecular Engineering I helped both lecture and design a class which showcased biological systems using fundamental principles. As an Assistant Professor, I aim to incorporate themes from my own research in order to demonstrate the relevance of the subject to current trends in science. For example, lessons taught as a research practicum, with unknown solutions to current problems, can serve as an efficient means to introduce critical thinking and scientific approaches. In addition to being able to teach core chemical engineering courses, I also feel uniquely positioned to introduce new courses geared towards the chemical and biological interface of our field. In particular, I am interested in designing a course aimed at drug discovery, design, and biomanufacturing.

Dissertation Work: “Discovery and application of a pathway for the biosynthesis of halo-, alkene-, and terminal alkyne amino acids” – Michelle Chang Lab – University of California, Berkeley

Successful Proposal: “Synthetic biology approaches to bio-orthogonal chemistry” – NSF (1710588)

Pre-doctoral Fellowship: HHMI Gilliam Fellow (2016-2019)

Presentation at AIChE 2018: "Discovery of a Pathway for Halogenated, Terminal Alkene, and Terminal Alkyne Amino Acid Biosynthesis" - (Session: Advances in Biocatalysts and Biosynthesis | Wednesday, Oct 31st at 8 am)