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  • Synthetic biology is a new field merging life science, engineering, computer science, and design. Within this field, we are able to adapt and re-engineer living organisms and systems from inexpensive and renewable materials. The chemicals produced have the potential to create new foundations for medicine, vaccines, energy, fuel, food, construction, architecture, and even environmental areas such as forestry.

    In this studio, students will explore the potential of biotechnology to enhance us as human beings and help us survive in extreme and everyday environments. Simple organisms such as bacteria and algae surround us and outnumber human cells in our bodies 10:1. If the new technology of biology allows us to engineer these organisms for new functions, what new abilities could we as humans or synthetic humans have? Can we inhabit new environments? Can we engineer synthetic organisms to purify contaminated drinking water after a hurricane? Can we create a DNA drug-delivery system to treat viral infections in humans? Or design a bacteria nightlight?

    As part of this studio, students will learn the basics of synthetic biology and how to use the combined power of biology and engineering to address real world problems. Through hands-on experiments, you’ll learn how to use chassis, system, device, redundancy, gene expression, DNA synthesis, and more. We’ll experiment, test ideas, learn from our failures and successes, and be part of advancing a new and emerging field!


    Focus Skills/Subjects/Technologies:



       Computer Programming

       Electronics & Biological Circuits

       Mathematical Modeling

       2D and 3D Modeling

       Genetics & DNA Synthesis


    • Enrolling students must be between the ages of 14 to 18 (or grades 9-12)


  • People are not always attuned to what their bodies need and the reasons they feel tired or sick. Improper nutrition can often be the cause.  NutriSensor is a wearable bioreactor that helps people attain nutritional knowledge to improve their health. The patch detects levels of protein, glucose, fat, and sodium in the wearer's body and then connects with an app on the phone so they can check their nutrition levels anywhere, anytime. The ultimate goal of NutriSensor is to help people become more conscious about what they put in their bodies and become healthier. When people use this device, they will think about what foods they consume and what nutritional value a particular food actually has. People will become better informed about whether they are putting too much or too little of different types of foods into their bodies.

    NutriSensor is designed for the general public who want to know more about their bodies. It is very helpful for people who struggle with protein deficiency, diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.  An obese user could see what nutritional values they were lacking and which were being over-consumed, so they could regulate their eating and lose weight. This patch is also very helpful to doctors because if someone felt sick and couldn't express their symptoms, the doctor could touch the phone to the patch and find out that person's nutrition levels, without having to order a blood draw and wait for lab results.

    NutriSensor is a small square with microneedles that go into the wearer's forearm. These microneedles go into the skin and use capillary action to suck up the interstitial fluid that's between the cells. This fluid flows into 4 different chambers that host engineered E.coli cells that can detect 4 distinct nutrients: protein, glucose, fat, and sodium. Once the bacteria sense the amount of protein, they will send a number of electrons to the NFC chip, indicating the protein level. There has been the Fitbit that tracts your exercise and heartbeat and a hydration monitor coming out in the summer but there has never been a monitor that detects the nutrition in your body like the NutriSensor.





Summer 2019 NuVu at MIT