Building Biology Symposium

Stanford Genetics and Developmental Biology Student Symposium

January 19, 2024, 8:30 am – 4:45 pm
 Berg Hall, Li Ka Shing Building, Stanford University 


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Symposium Schedule

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8:30 - 9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 - 9:45 am Patrick Hsu (University of California, Berkeley)
Developing new molecular technologies in genomics.
9:45 - 10:30 am Sergiu Pasca (Stanford University)
Researching human neural circuits with 3D organoids.
10:30 - 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 - 11:45 am Katie Galloway (MIT)
Engineering cellular therapies and gene circuits.
11:45 am - 12:30 pm Jennifer Brophy (Stanford University)
Engineering plants and their microbes for agriculture.
12:30 - 1:30 pm Lunch
1:30 - 2:15 pm Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz (Caltech)
Modeling embryogenesis in vitro using stem cells.
2:15 - 3:00 pm Neil Shubin (UChicago)
Uncovering the evolutionary origin of anatomical features.

3:00 - 3:15 pm

3:15 - 4:45 pm

Summary and discussion

Poster presentation


More on Our Speakers

Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz is the Professor of Development and Stem Cells at the University of Cambridge and a Bren Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Spanning the past 25 years, research from the Zernicka-Goetz lab has broken new ground in studies of human embryo post-implantation development in vitro, cell fate specification in mouse and human embryos, and the creation of 3D embryos by combining multiple stem cell types. The Zernicka-Goetz Lab aims to uncover the fundamental principles and molecular mechanisms that regulate cell identity, pluripotency, and embryo plasticity, size, shape, and self-organization. 

Katie Galloway

Katie Galloway is the W. M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research focuses on elucidating the fundamental principles of integrating synthetic circuitry to drive cellular behaviors. Her lab focuses on developing integrated gene circuits and elucidating the systems-level principles that govern complex cellular behaviors. Her team leverages synthetic biology to transform how we understand cellular transitions and engineer cellular therapies. Galloway earned a PhD and an MS in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a BS in Chemical Engineering from University of California at Berkeley. She completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Southern California. 

Sergiu Pasca

Trained as a physician in Romania, Sergiu came for postdoctoral training at Stanford in 2009 where he developed some of the initial in vitro models of disease by deriving neurons from skin cells taken from patients with genetic brain disorders. His lab has afterwards introduced the use of instructive signals for reproducibly deriving self-organizing 3D cellular structures known as regionalized neural organoids or spheroids. To gain access to complex cellular interactions in the human brain, his research group also pioneered a modular system to study human neural circuits in preparations named assembloids. 

Jennifer Brophy

Jenn received her BS in bioengineering from UC Berkeley and PhD from MIT, where she worked with Chris Voigt and Alan Grossman to develop a tool for engineering undomesticated Gram positive bacteria. As a postdoc, she worked with José Dinneny at Stanford to engineer spatial patterns of gene expression across plant tissues using synthetic genetic circuits. She is interested in applying synthetic biology to address climate change issues and enhance sustainability. Her lab focuses on developing technologies that enable the genetic engineering of plants and their associated microbes with the goal of driving innovation in agriculture for a sustainable future.They are developing synthetic genetic circuits to control gene expression in plants and are leveraging these circuits to modify the spatiotemporal patterns of gene expression in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The resulting synthetic circuits are then applied to change the plant's growth and behavior. Since then, her research has focused on the ecology of thermophiles from deep-sea vents and terrestrial hot springs. She uses the microbial ecological and genomic insights from hydrothermal ecosystems to study some of the most elusive Archaea and Bacteria in these systems.

Patrick Hsu

Patrick Hsu is Co-Founder and a Core Investigator of the Arc Institute and Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Deb Faculty Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. A pioneer in the field of CRISPR gene editing, Patrick’s work aims to accelerate scientific progress through innovation in biotechnology development, science funding, and research organizations. His research group works at the intersection of synthetic biology, genetics, and AI to invent new biotechnologies for improving human health, recently reporting inventions for programmable RNA perturbation in living cells, ‘gene writing’ with DNA integrases, and point-of-care diagnostic tests. Patrick received A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and his research has been recognized by the NIH Early Independence Award, the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35, the Rainwater Prize for Innovative Early Career Scientists, and the Amgen Young Investigator Award. 

Neil Shubin

Neil is a Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of chicago. His lab seeks to understand the mechanisms behind the evolutionary origin of new anatomical features and faunas. The philosophy that underlies all of their empirical work is derived from the conviction that progress in the study of evolutionary biology results from linking research across diverse temporal, phylogenetic, and structural scales. The Origin of Novel Faunas and Anatomical Systems: Much of today’s vertebrate diversity was defined by ecological and evolutionary shifts that happened during two critical intervals in the history of the Earth: the Devonian and the Triassic. These periods serve as the focal point for their research because they witness the origin of both new ecosystems and new anatomical designs. Their expeditionary research supplies new fossils and a paleoenvironmental context to understand the origin of faunas, whereas our morphological, functional, and developmental studies yield hypotheses on anatomical transformations.