Daniel I.C. Wang Professor of Advanced Biotechnology
School of Engineering
“As synthetic biologists, we’re trying to massively advance the scale of genetic engineering projects,” says Christopher Voigt, the Daniel I.C. Wang Professor of Advanced Biotechnology. “We’re focused on how to build better cells and on what that means for agriculture, medicine, industry, and beyond.”
To Voigt, potential applications of biological engineering seem infinite: synthetic biology has been used to identify alternatives to harmful chemical fertilizers in agriculture and to design more targeted and effective drug therapies by reengineering the bacteria that live within us. MIT researchers have even developed enzymes that break down polystyrene, a positive step toward reducing the environmental impact of discarded plastic.
Funds from the professorship have enabled Voigt and his students to attend conferences outside of their particular field, helping them to identify potential interdisciplinary collaborators. “MIT is unique in its ability to cross boundaries,” he remarks.
Also exceptional, according to Voigt, is the Institute’s deep commitment to entrepreneurship as well as innovation. “Everyone here has the mindset of getting new technology out into the world,” says Voigt. “Because of MIT, I know that the results we generate in the lab will be translated to have a real impact.”