Ron Weiss is Professor in the Department of Biological Engineering and in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is the Director of the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT. Professor Weiss is one of the pioneers of synthetic biology. He has been engaged in synthetic biology research since 1996 when he was
a graduate student at MIT and where he helped set up a wet-lab in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. After completion of his PhD, Weiss joined the faculty at Princeton University, and then returned to MIT in 2009 to take on a faculty position in the Department of Biological Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The research pursued by Weiss since those early days has placed him in a position of leadership in the field, as evidenced both by publications from his lab as well as a variety of awards and other forms of recognition. He pursued several aspects of synthetic biology, including synthesis of gene networks engineered to perform in vivo analog and digital logic computation. The Weiss lab also published seminal papers in synthetic biology focused on programming cell aggregates to perform coordinated tasks using engineered cell-cell communication with chemical diffusion mechanisms such as quorum sensing. Several of these manuscripts were featured in a recent Nature special collection of a select number of synthetic biology papers reflecting on the first 10 years of synthetic biology. While work in the Weiss lab began mostly with prokaryotes, during the last 5 years a majority of the research in the lab shifted to mammalian synthetic biology. The lab focuses both on foundational research, e.g. creating general methods to improve our ability to engineer biological systems, as well as pursuing specific health related applications where synthetic biology provides unique capabilities.