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Sense Team

Developing sensors that convert cellular events into barcodes that can then be written into DNA.

The Seattle Hub for Synthetic Biology is a collaboration between Allen Institute, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the University of Washington.

Goals and Approach

Female scientist in lab coat and PPE
Foundational member Hina Iftikhar, Ph.D. in the lab.

The “Sense” team will be part of a larger effort that includes teams focused on expanding our abilities to engineer cells and genomes to autonomously “Write,” “Read,” and “Act” at a molecular level. The Sense team will work on building and improving signal conversion technologies aimed at sensing changes in the cell and transmitting that information to modules that ‘Write’ those changes to the cell’s DNA. Essentially, the team will work to improve the performance of artificial signal transduction capabilities, e.g., using ENGRAM. Our goal is to develop sensors that are sensitive and specific, robust, inert, fast and have broad applicability. By doing so we hope to capture signaling and lineage histories of many thousands of individual cells.

Research Details

• Designing and testing modular mRNA and protein-based sensors

  • Modifying ENGRAM to make it more precise, modular and scalable


Hina Iftikhar, Ph.D.

Scientist III
Allen Institute Placeholder Image

Diana Vedenova

Research Associate II
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Shruthi Vijay Kumar

Senior Research Associate

Science Programs at Allen Institute