Metabolic Engineering

view profile for Taek Soon Lee

Taek Soon Lee

Director of Metabolic Engineering

view profile for David Carruthers

David Carruthers

Scientific Engineer Associate

Microbes, such as E. coli, P. putida and yeast, can be redesigned to be miniature chemical reactors that transform sugars and other carbon sources into biofuels and bioproducts. Researchers in the Metabolic Engineering Group identify and introduce biosynthetic pathways from one organism into a host microbe, such as E. coli, P. putida and yeast, and then engineer metabolic pathways using genetic manipulation to optimize the production of target chemicals that the host microbe does not naturally generate in large quantity. We also explore chemical conversion of biomass-derived molecules to bioproducts and biofuels using heterogeneous catalysis to expand the scope of products and our capability of biomass conversion.

Our goal is to leverage metabolic diversity in nature, and create highly efficient, microbial factories for green, cost-effective and sustainable production of advanced biofuels and other valuable bioproducts. Potential biofuels and bioproducts candidates such as isoprenoids.


  • Optimization of hydrocarbon biosynthetic pathways in selected hosts
  • Engineering of isoprenoid pathway for production of biofuels and bioproducts
  • Multi-Omics guided metabolic engineering towards high titers, rates, and yields 
  • Development of chemical catalysis to both expand the range of reachable bioderived compounds and help prioritize bioconversion targets

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