Cellular Engineering       


Cellular Engineering - overview


Cellular Engineering is a new scientific discipline which aims at transforming the field of cell biology into a quantitative discipline adapting tools from engineering, the physical sciences, and computer science to design automated machines out of living cells.

This project is concentrated around the newly founded Center for Cellular Construction, an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center based at UC San Francisco. This effort involves researchers from IBM Almaden Research Center, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, SF State University, and the SF Exploratorium.

The relationship between cellular morphology and cellular state and function is evident, but not yet completely understood from a mechanistic standpoint. Uncovering the rules of cellular self assembly has the potential of translating to real world applications in many fields of science and technology, from environmental sensing, to industrial strain design, to therapeutic.

Research in IBM focuses on advanced image analysis tools, novel instrumentation, mathematical and physical modeling of cellular behavior, and the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. Moreover, IBM researchers will investigate the use of collaborative tools to foster and advance innovation and discovery in the Center


A pair of stentors


The center is organized around five research projects:

  • The Cellular Machine Shop will develop and build cell engineering tools such as high capacity imaging systems and gene synthesis and sequencing tools.

  • Computer Aided Design (CAD) will focus on building a computational platform that gives researchers the ability to virtually model individual cells and multicellular structures. The goal is to provide cellular engineers with a tool that is similar to the CAD programs that are frequently used by engineers in the physical sciences.

  • Multicellular Engineering is devoted to creating tools at the molecular level that allow cellular engineers to combine individual cells into multicellular units that are designed to solve specific problems.

  • The Living Bioreactor project is focused on designing cells that can efficiently produce needed substances like drugs or biofuels in environments that may be unfriendly to naturally occurring cellular organisms.

  • The Cell State Inference Engine aims to develop advanced image analysis software that will enable engineered cells to serve as biosensors that can monitor the environment and act as cellular "canaries in a coal mine" that will give advance warning before toxic conditions become life or health threatening.



Recent news


Elsa Rousseau publishes a new paper on plant resistance to viruses and population bottlenecks. (link).


New paper out on Nature Methods on Quanti.us, a novel platform for crowdsourced annotation. The paper contains our new AI algorithm, which is able to efficiently generalize from noisy annotation. (link).


New paper coming out on the Journal of the American Chemical Society, which describes a new synthetic polymer that is able to kill drug resistant cancer cells (link).


Simone publishes a paper on Nature Communications describing a new polymer that is able to kill antimicrobial resistance bacteria (link).

(press release)


Welcome to Cellular Engineering interns Amanda Paulson and Jacob Kimmel!


Congrats to Elsa Rousseau for her recent publication on the Journal of General Virology! (link).


Elsa Rousseau presents her recent work on defective viral particles at the 2017 Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease meeting, in Santa Barbara.


Congrats to Sujoy Biswas for his recent publication on the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing! (link).


Simone speaks about viral dynamic at the SIAM Symposium on applications of Dynamical Systems (DS 2017) (abstract here).


Simone publishes an article about Cellular Engineering on www.01net.it (in Italian).


Press release about recent paper about the role of the animal reservoir on the spread of the Ebola virus.

See also:

Healtcare IT News
Clinical Innovation + Technology


Article about Cellular Engineering (and other projects at IBM Almaden) on the Italian newspaper Il Foglio (pdf, in Italian).