Student Spotlight

Synthetic Biology Group: Mark Mimee

Research group name

Lu Lab – Synthetic Biology Group

Hometown, Country:

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Academic History Prior to coming to MIT:

BSc Microbiology & Immunology, McGill University

What brought you to MIT?

Nearing the end of my undergraduate degree, I learned of the field of biological engineering and the notion that engineering biology could yield powerful solutions to biological problems. MIT is a leading institution in synthetic biology and biological engineering, and I am grateful to have pursued my graduate work in this community.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications? 

The microbes that live in and on the human body are inextricably linked to health and disease. My work focuses on developing strategies to engineer the host-commensal relationship for human health applications. To date, I’ve worked on developing bacterial viruses (called bacteriophages) as selective antimicrobials, on engineering commensal Bacteroides species as therapeutics for inflammatory bowel disease, and on creating a hybrid bacterial-electronic medical device to measure biomarkers associated with gastrointestinal health.

What interests you most about your research? 

I’m fascinated by the fact that something so small as a lowly bacterium can have such profound effects on an entire organism. I find this biological ‘butterfly effect’ to be quite poetic. I’ve also greatly enjoyed the collaborations and friendships that have been born out of my PhD in the Microbiology Program. Working with others with the shared goal of solving a common research problem has been both personally and intellectually rewarding.

 

What are your future plans?

Hopefully, I will one day lead my own group of scientists and continue my pursuit of understanding and engineering the interaction between host and microbe.