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Published on Apr 14, 2016
Proteins are molecular machines that catalyze the essential processes of life. Thanks to recent advances in synthetic biology, it is now possible to design entirely novel proteins encoded by fully synthetic genes. Some of these novel proteins provide life-sustaining activities in vivo. These findings suggest that (i) the molecular toolkit for life need not be limited to genes and proteins that already exist in nature, and (ii) novel life forms sustained by artificial genomes and proteomes may soon be possible.
Michael Hecht grew up in Midtown Manhattan. He received a BA in Chemistry from Cornell and a Ph.D. in Biology from MIT. He then did post-doctoral research in Biochemistry at Duke Medical School. In 1990, Hecht joined the faculty at Princeton, where is a Professor of Chemistry and holds an affiliated appointment in Molecular Biology. He teaches courses ranging from Introductory Chemistry to graduate seminars on Protein Folding and Design. In addition to teaching and research, Prof. Hecht is the Head of Forbes College, one of the six undergraduate colleges at Princeton University. When not in Frick Lab or Forbes College, he spends his time traveling, skiing, inline skating, bicycling, and hiking.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx