We are located at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, TX. Our lab is associated with the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and several other groups at UT Austin.

The Ellington Lab is attempting to develop novel synthetic organisms based on altering the translation apparatus and developing modular nucleic acid software. Translation engineering centers on the introduction of novel amino acids into proteins that have the capability to base-pair and is being pursued using a variety of techniques, including directed evolution, computational design, and high-throughput synthesis. This latter capacity is abetted by a Gene Synthesis Facility capable of producing multiple kilobases of DNA per week. In parallel, DNA circuits based on strand exchange reactions and capable of executing embedded algorithms are being developed using tools such as aptamers and DNA nanotechnology. The first application of these circuits will be in point-of-care diagnostics, but eventually these circuits should form the basis of a new, modular cellular operating system. We anticipate this operating system should also prove useful in cell-to-cell communication and drug delivery in organisms, and are actively pursuing in vivo studies. In order to enhance both engineering translation and installing DNA circuitry into cells, we have developed tools to directly synthesize operons, enable facile horizontal transfer, and edit genomes, and are interested in how such tools can be used to engineer cellular consortiums, including biofilms.


September 7, 2016: Andre's latest paper on evolving orthogonal suppressor tRNAs for modified amino acid incorporation is now available to read.

July 18 - 21, 2016: Several members of the lab attended SEED 2016 in Chicago, where Andy spoke about the functional incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteomes.

June 24, 2016: Research by Jared, Jimmy, and Raghav on the development of a reverse transcriptase capable of proofreading is featured in this week's issue of Science.

Summer 2016: Eric Verbeke joins the lab as a summer rotation student. Welcome Eric!

May 25, 2016: Bo's paper on anti-ricin antibody discovery through repertoire analysis and yeast surface display is out.

May 23, 2016: The new lab website is under construction.

April 29, 2016: Jared successfully defends his dissertation.

March 31, 2016: A new paper by Cheulhee on expanding oligonucleotide terminal hairpin formation and self-priming (THSP) by incorporating phosphorothioates is now available.

March 23, 2016: Sherry successfully defends her dissertation.