Engineering | School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

Fuqing Wu, a SBHSE Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Xiao Wang’s Synthetic and Systems Biology laboratory, was recently awarded an American Heart Association (AHA) Predoctoral Fellowship for his project “Engineering a multistable MINPA gene network to regulate cell fate determination”.

Cardiac cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells have the potential to be used to treat cardiovascular injuries. However, successful stem cell therapies require accurate and quantitative understanding of the cell differentiation process. This fellowship will support Fuqing’s pursuit of using synthetic biology approaches to engineer multistable gene networks, starting in Escherichia coli with the goal of testing them in stem cells. Particularly, he will combine mathematical modeling with experimental validations to reveal the fundamental mechanisms generating multistability and state transition dynamics during stem cell differentiation. Proposed studies will lead to potential biotechnology applications and new perspectives on stem cell differentiation related to heart development, cardiac tissue engineering, and therapeutic interventions.

Fuqing Wu (l) Xiao Wang (r)
Using synthetic gene networks to understand cell fate determination. Left: according to Waddington, stem cell differentiation is analogous to a marble rolling down through a landscape of bifurcating valleys. Right: cells with engineered gene circuit displaying multiple steady states, illustrated by green, red, and yellow fluorescence.