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CHE.496: Biological Systems Design Seminar

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Course Overview

This course aims to introduce the engineering principles of synthetic biology to science and engineering undergraduate students at the University of Virginia in order to equip them with the tools necessary to design and build a functional biological system and, in doing so, program novel cellular function and behavior to solve engineering problems and test biological hypotheses.

Synthetic biology is emerging as a new engineering discipline, applying engineering principles such as the standardization of modular components, abstraction of complex systems, and decoupling of fabrication from design to biology. Complex, novel biological systems are engineered to solve industrial, medical and environmental engineering problems such as the bioremediation of toxic waste, the microbial production of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin, and the biosynthesis of hydrogen or butanol as an alternative fuel source.

Course coordinator: Erik Fernandez
Meeting times: W 6-6:50pm, R 7-7:50pm


  • Attendance
  • Read material for each meeting
  • Write a response to each reading assignment
  • Lead discussions (rotational basis)
  • Complete 3 main projects


  • This course will be offered next year for old and new VGEM Team members.

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