Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Getting started with synthetic biology

Charles Fracchia (MIT / Harvard Medical School)
9:00am–5:00pm Tuesday, 06/23/2015
Tutorial, Bio
Location: C 210 (Bldg C)
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 7 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge


Materials or downloads needed in advance

A computer for doing the design phase of the Synbiota assembly


  • Synthetic Biology 101 Lecture (~1hr)
    *Biology 101: dogmas and terms
    *What is synbio?
    *Some example works from over the years
    *Exciting new works / state of the field
  • Synbiota workshop (https://synbiota.com/welcome)
    *Design new circuit
    *Learn pipetting
    *Assemble the circuit from the parts (synbiota kit)
    *Cooking Show-style example results shown
    *Return next day briefly for results?
  • Mixing biology with computer science and electronics session
    *Needs and problems of biological research
    *How CS and EE can help provide a solution
Photo of Charles Fracchia

Charles Fracchia

MIT / Harvard Medical School

Charles Fracchia is an IBM PhD Fellow at the MIT Medialab in Joe Jacobson’s Molecular Machines group, and in the Church lab at the Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School. Charles obtained his bachelor’s at Imperial College London, where he worked on a potassium ion channel-based synthetic biology reporter system. He continued his thesis work at IBM Research, where he has been encouraging research in bioelectronic interfaces ever since. Charles worked as an early intern at Ginkgo Bioworks, where he developed many of the assembly pipelines still used today.

Charles is a founder of BioBright, a company building open source hardware and software tools that he hopes will transform the way biomedical research is carried out, and enable curious people to ask interesting questions easily. He represents Boston for the Hello Tomorrow challenge (European 100k), and is a founding member of the first DIYBio lab. Charles has spoken about his work at many different venues including the White House, MIT Sloan, NASA Ames, IBM Research, and Airbus.

His current academic interests lie at the intersection of biological engineering and electronics, a space that has been called Digital Biology†. At the heart of digital biology lies the notion of bioelectronic interfaces. Defining and building these interfaces is the leitmotiv of his research, from scalable DNA origami systems all the way to smart, context-enhancing systems for research and accessible human physiological monitors.

True to MIT hacking culture, Charles loves prototyping electronics and programming, and regularly explores fun projects ranging from making reverse geocache boxes to networked sensors of all kinds.