Meet BME faculty candidate Nika Shakiba
NIKA SHAKIBA, PhD.
Weiss Lab for Synthetic Biology Center
Department of Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Cell Fate
Controlling Competition within Multicellular Population
As evolution guided the development of multicellular animals by uniting unicellular organisms, single cells have had to adapt their social interactions and engage in mainly co-operative relationships with their neighbours. Nevertheless, remnants of natural selection and competition have remained an innate component of cell-cell interactions and govern the dynamics of cell populations. In the era of cellular engineering, where scientists can direct cell behaviour by engineering gene regulatory networks, cell competition remains an unexplored parameter by which we may be able to control population dynamics. Perhaps the most prominent example of cellular engineering is the recent discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in a process called reprogramming – a discovery which was recognized with a Nobel Prize in 2012. iPSCs provide an interesting model system in which to probe the impact of key transcription factors on cell competition outcomes. In this talk, I will explore cell competition dynamics in reprogramming populations, utilizing a combined cellular barcoding, mathematical modelling, and lineage tracing approach.