Research > Molecular Programming & Synthetic Biology

Molecular Programming


The goal of molecular programming research is to examine and develop chemical systems as an information technology. Starting with macromolecules defined by their information content — such as DNA, RNA, and proteins with a particular sequence — the first task is to design sequences that imbue the molecule with a target function, such as folding into a particular shape or acting as a molecular machine. When multiple such molecules are designed to interact, they can self-assemble into complex structures or behave as biochemical circuits for controlling molecular processes.Molecular programming entails formalizing models of molecular system behavior and developing systematic methods for their design and analysis.

In CMS, research focuses on models for molecular programming of folding, self-assembly, chemical reaction networks, and molecular robotics. This enables theoretical investigations of molecular information processing, molecular complexity theory, probabilistic computation, free energy landscapes, metastable systems, and fundamental limits. With a focus on nucleic acid nanotechnology and synthetic biology, we are also developing abstractions, programming languages, design algorithms, verification tools, and compilers that translate high-level specifications into molecular sequences that can be synthesized in the laboratory.


Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Richard Murray, Lior Patcher, Niles Pierce, Lulu Qian, Paul Rothemund, Erik Winfree

Related research groups & Centers > Pierce Lab, DNA and Natural Algorithms Group, Molecular Programming Project, CMI

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