Links for Additional Information

Christopher Voigt, Ph.D.

Department of Biological Engineering
Associate Professor

Room NE47-277
(617) 324-4851 (phone)


1998 BSE Chemical Engineering University of Michigan
2002 PhD Biochemistry and Biophysics California Institute of Technology

Research Summary

We are developing a programming language for cells. This involves the design of genetic circuits, encoded in DNA, that have functions analogous to their electronic counterparts.  Computational programs are being developed that automate the connection of these circuits into programs that are able to implement more complex computational operations. This capability is being applied to control and coordinate cellular processes that encoded by many genes.  This is used to harness cells as manufacturing platforms encompassing multiple transformation steps to build complex structures or chemicals. This is being applied to many problems spanning agriculture (nitrogen fixation) to materials (metal nanoparticles).

Selected Publications

  • Moon, T.S., Clarke, E.J., Groban, E.S., Tamsir, A., Clark, R.M., Eams, M., Kortemme, T., and Voigt, C.A. (2011) Toggling between chemosensory signaling pathways using a DNA inversion switch, J. Mol. Biol., 406: 215-227.
  • Tamsir, A., Voigt, C.A. (2011) Robust multicellular computing using genetically-encoded NOR gates and chemical “wires,” Nature, 469: 212-215.
  • Tabor, J., Levskaya, A., and Voigt, C.A. (2011) Multichromatic control of gene expression in Escherichia coli, J. Mol. Biol., 405: 315-324.
  • Clarke, E., and Voigt, C.A. (2011) A Bacterial Nose: Characterization of patterns generated by two-component sensors in E. coli in response to chemical stimuli, Biotechnology & Bioengineering, 108: 666-675.
  • Widmaier, D.M., and Voigt, C.A. (2010) Quantification of the physiochemical constraints on the export of spider silk proteins by salmonella Type III secretion, Microbial Chemical Factories, 9: 78.
  • Levskaya, A., Weiner, O., Lim, W.A., and Voigt, C.A. (2009) Spatiotemporal control of cell signaling and morphology using a genetically-encoded light-switchable interaction, Nature, 461, 997-1001.
  • Salis, H., Mirsky, E., and Voigt, C.A. (2009) Automated design of synthetic ribosome binding sites to precisely control protein expression, Nature Biotechnology, 27:946-U112.
  • Tabor, J.J., Salis, H., Simpson, Z.B., Chevalier, A.A., Levskaya, A., Marcotte, E., Voigt, C.A., and Ellington, A.D. A synthetic genetic edge detection program, Cell, 137:1272.
  • Bayer, T.S., Widmaier, D.M., Temme, K., Mirsky, E.A., Santi, D.V., and Voigt, C.A. (2009) Synthesis of methyl halides from biomass using engineered microbes, JACS, 131: 6508-6515.
  • Groban, E.S., Clarke, E.J., Salis, H., Miller, S.M., and Voigt, C.A. (2009) Kinetic buffering of crosstalk between bacterial two-component sensors, Journal of Molecular Biology, 390:380-393.
  • Widmaier, DW, Mirsky, E, Minshull, J, and Voigt, CA. (2009) Engineering the Salmonella type III secretion system to export spider silk monomers, Nature Molecular Systems Biology, 5:309.
  • Temme, K., Salis, H., Tullman-Ercek, D. Levskaya, A., Hong, S-H., and Voigt, C. A. (2008) Induction and relaxation dynamics of the regulatory network controlling the type III secretion system encoded within Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 1, Journal of Molecular Biology, 377: 47-61.
  • Anderson, JC, Voigt, CA, and Arkin, AP. (2007) A genetic AND gate based on translation control, Nature Molecular Systems Biology, 3: 133.
  • Anderson, J. C., Clarke, E. J., Arkin, A. P., and Voigt, C. A. (2005) Environmentally Controlled Invasion of Cancer Cells by Engineered Bacteria, Journal of Molecular Biology, 335: 619-627.
  • Levskaya, A., Chevalier, A.A., Tabor, J.J., Simpson, Z.B., Lavery, L.A., Levy, M., Davidson, E.A., Scouras, A., Ellington, A.D., Marcotte, E.M., and Voigt, C.A. (2005) Engineering E. coli to see light, Nature, 24: 441-442.
  • Voigt, C. A., Wolf, D. M., and Arkin, A. P. (2005) The B. subtilis sin operon: An evolvable network motif, Genetics, 169: 1187-1202.
  • Otey, C. R., Silberg, J. J., Voigt, C. A., Endelman, J. B., Bandara, G., and Arnold, F. H. (2004) Functional evolution and structural conservation in chimeric cytochromes P450: Calibrating a structure-guided approach, Chemistry & Biology, 11: 309-318.
  • Meyer, M. M., Silberg, J. J., Voigt, C. A., Endelman, J. B., Mayo, S. L., Wang, Z-G., and Arnold, F. H. (2003) Library analysis of SCHEMA-guided protein recombination, Protein Science, 12: 1686-1693.
  • Voigt, C. A., Martinez, C., Mayo, S.L., Wang, Z-.G., and Arnold, F.H. (2002) Protein building blocks preserved by recombination, Nature Structural Biology, 9: 553-558.
  • Voigt, C. A., Mayo, S.L., Arnold, F.H., and Wang, Z-.G. (2001) Computational method to reduce the search space of directed protein evolution, Proc. Natl. Acad. USA, 98, 3778- 3783.
  • Voigt, C. A., Gordon, D. B., and Mayo, S. L. (2000) Trading accuracy for speed: a quantitative comparison of search algorithms in protein sequence design. Journal of Molecular Biology, 299: 789-803.
  • Voigt, C. A., and Ziff, R. M. (1997) Epidemic analysis of the oxygen poisoning critical point in the Ziff-Gulari-Barshad model. Physical Review E, 56: R6241-R6244.
  • Voigt, C. A., and Ziff, R. M. (1997) Dynamic behavior of the monomer-monomer surface reaction model with adsorbate interactions. Journal of Chemical Physics, 107: 7397-7401.

Non-Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Toettcher, J.E., Voigt, C.A., Weiner, O.D., Lim, W.A. (2011) The promise of optogenetics in cell biology: interrogating molecular circuits in space and time, Nature Methods, 8: 35-38.
  • Fischbach, M., Voigt, C.A. (2010) Prokaryotic gene clusters: A rich toolbox for synthetic biology, Biotechnology J., 5: 1277-1296.
  • Clancy, K., and Voigt, C.A. (2010) Programming Cells: Towards and automated “Genetic Compiler,” Current Option Biotechnology, 21: 572-581.
  • Salis, H., Tamsir, A., Voigt, C.A. (2009) Engineering bacterial signals and sensors, Bacterial Sensing and Signaling, Contrib. Microb., Karger, 16: 1-32.
  • Tabor, J.J., Groban, E., and Voigt, C.A. (2009) Performance Characteristics for Sensors and Circuits to Program E. coli, Systems Biology and Biotechnology of Escherichia coli, 401-439.
  • Voigt, CA. (2008) Life from Information, Nature Methods, 5: 27-28.
  • Voigt, C.A. (2006) Genetic Devices to Program Cells, Curr. Opin. Biotech., 17: 548-557.
  • Voigt, C. A., and Keasling, J. D. (2005) Programming Cellular Function, Nature Chemical Biology, 1: 304-307.
  • Voigt, C. A., Mayo, S. L., Wang, Z-G., and Arnold, F.H. (2004) Directing the evolvable: Utilizing robustness in in vitro evolution, In: Robust Design: A Repertoire of Biological, Ecological, and Engineering Case Studies (Santa Fe Institute Studies on the Science of Complexity), Ed. Erica Jen, Oxford University Press.
  • Bolon, D. N., Voigt, C. A., and Mayo, S. L. (2002) De novo design of biocatalysts, Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol., 6: 125-129.
  • Voigt, C. A., Mayo, S.L., Arnold, F.H., and Wang, Z-.G. (2001) Computationally focusing the directed evolution of proteins, J. Cellular Biochemistry, Supp 37: 58-63.
  • May, O., Voigt C.A., and Arnold, F. H. (2002) Enzyme engineering by directed evolution, In: Enzyme Catalysis for Organic Synthesis, Ed. K. Drauz and H. Waldmann, Wiley.
  • Voigt, C. A., Kauffman S.A., and Wang Z.-G. (2000) Rational evolutionary design: the theory of in vitro protein evolution. In: Evolutionary Approaches to Protein Design, Ed. Frances H. Arnold, Advances in Protein Chemistry, vol. 55, Academic Press, pp 79-160.

Last Updated: January 7, 2012