Engineering Life One Molecule at a Time

  • Speaker
  • Michael Murrell, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Yale University
Date & Time

About Presidential Lectures

Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.

Biological matter is the only matter that ostensibly exists for a purpose — life. However, how can the laws of physics define life? Living systems operate far from thermodynamic equilibrium and thus resist definition by the laws of equilibrium thermodynamics. Therefore, the energetic rules that govern biological assembly, the evolution of complex structure and form and the processes that promote life are unknown.

In this Presidential Lecture, Michael Murrell will discuss his research into engineering life from synthetic components. He will discuss novel methodologies for orchestrating protein-protein interactions that build complex macromolecules de novo while measuring the energy consumed in the process. In doing so, he can develop an energy ‘landscape’ that describes the energetic costs of organization, complexity and behavior. With this information, we can revisit long-standing hypotheses on the energetic requirements for life and identify potential strategies for engineering materials with life-like capabilities.

About the Speaker

Murrell runs the Laboratory for Living Matter within the Systems Biology Institute at the Yale West Campus as part of the biomedical engineering and physics departments. His laboratory studies the non-equilibrium properties of biological systems and designs and engineers novel bio-inspired materials. His group comprises a diverse group of experimentalists, computational scientists and theorists, all driven to understand some of the most fundamental questions surrounding the origin of life.

Advancing Research in Basic Science and MathematicsSubscribe to our newsletters to receive news & updates