Genetic Control Systems

Much of our work is focused on mimicking, recapitulating, or programming biological systems such as cell differentiation and tissue development. Importantly, in nature these processes are tightly controlled with respect to both space and time.  In order to synthetically recapitulate this spatiotemporal patterning, we are engineering systems for the regulation of gene expression with visible light and pharmacologic compounds. This will enable precise spatial and dynamic control of gene expression for modeling the role of gene regulation in development and disease. This work will lead to technologies for studying cell-cell interactions and tissue development, and can also be incorporated into applications such as tissue engineering to create complex features and combinations of tissue types.

Related works:

1. LR Polstein and CA Gersbach. Spatiotemporal Control of Endogenous Gene Activation Using Light-Inducible CRISPR-Cas9 Transcription Factors. Nature Chemical Biology 11(3):198-200 (2015).

        - Highlighted by Biotechniques

2. KA Glass, J Link, JM Brunger, FT Moutos, CA Gersbach,* F Guilak*. Tissue-engineered cartilage with inducible and tunable immunomodulatory properties. Biomaterials 35(22):5921-31 (2014).

3. LR Polstein, CA Gersbach. Light-Inducible Spatiotemporal Control of Gene Activation by Customizable Zinc Finger Transcription Factors. Journal of the American Chemical Society 134(40):16480-3 (2012).

        - Highlighted by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, COSMOS Magazine, Duke’s The Chronicle, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (

4. CA Gersbach, JM Le Doux, RE Gulderg, AJ Garcia. Inducible Regulation of Runx2-Stimulated Osteogenesis.  Gene Therapy 13(11):873-82 (2006).