Ahmad (Mo) Khalil

2022 Polymaths Award Winner

Dr. Ahmad (Mo) Khalil is the Dorf-Ebner Distinguished Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Founding Associate Director of the Biological Design Center at Boston University. Trained as an engineer, Dr. Khalil seeks to understand the design principles of living systems by creating and analyzing synthetic ones in the laboratory. His team has pioneered synthetic biology approaches to rationally construct and dissect the molecular circuits that control gene regulation in eukaryotes, work that has resulted in fundamental discoveries on transcription regulation and epigenetic memory and led to platforms for creating programmable cellular therapies to address pressing human diseases. In addition, his team has developed powerful automation technologies, such as the eVOLVER, that enable researchers to perform laboratory evolution at unprecedented scale. Dr. Khalil’s team is applying these technologies to recreate the evolutionary histories of biological systems in the laboratory and to harness the power of evolution to generate biomolecules with new and improved functions for a variety of applications. The team is also working to distribute and democratize access to the eVOLVER platform and other technologies they develop to support further innovation worldwide. Visit the Khalil Lab website for more information on their work.

Planned Polymaths Work: Dr. Khalil is interested in pursuing several new areas of interdisciplinary and collaborative research, including the invention and application of new technologies that allow precise cultivation and study of human-associated microbiota. Another area is the development of synthetic biology platforms for engineering multicellular systems, which could initiate new ways to study plants and potentially generate crops that are resilient to population growth and climate change.