Dr. Ramon Gonzalez is a Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University. He leads the laboratory for Metabolic Engineering and Biomanufacturing with the goal of engineering biological platforms for the synthesis of organic molecules with applications in fuel, chemical, and pharmaceutical production.
Dr. Gonzalez has published over sixty-seven articles in leading scientific journals, including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Science, Nature Chemical Biology, Metabolic Engineering, and ACS Synthetic Biology. He is the lead inventor in twenty-two patents or patent applications and has given over ninety invited talks. Dr. Gonzalez is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology, and also a Member of the Editorial Board of Science, Applied & Environmental Microbiology, Biotechnology Journal, Metabolic Engineering Communications, Applied Biochemistry & Biotechnology, and Food Biotechnology. He was the Program Chair of the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB), and currently serves as a Director in the SIMB’s Board of Directors. Dr. Gonzalez is co-founder of Glycos Biotechnologies, Inc., a Houston-based technology company focused on the biological production of chemicals. He recently served as Program Director with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy and as Director of the Rice Energy and Environment Initiative.
Dr. Gonzalez received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Chile, a M.S. in Biochemical Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (Chile), and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Central University of Las Villas (Cuba).
Research Thrust Leaders
Molecules: George Bennett
Dr. George Bennett is the E. Dell Butcher Professor in the Department of BioSciences at Rice University. He leads the Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory which focuses on genetic engineering of metabolic pathways of microbes for production of biofuels and chemicals. The laboratory studies the responses of bacteria to stresses either encountered in nature or in an industrial fermentor, such as pH, oxygen limitation or salt concentration. These fundamental studies have developed approaches to metabolic engineering including cofactor engineering-the modification of the availability of redox factors such as NADH, the “cellular refinery” approach of producing multiple compatible products during a process, and the modeling and use of available genetic resources from the large genomic and biochemical databases for optimal metabolic performance.
Dr. Bennett has published nearly 250 articles in leading scientific journals and is an inventor on twenty-eight patents. He has served on advisory boards of several biotech companies, as the Chair of his department and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science & the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Dr. Bennett received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Purdue University, a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Nebraska, and served as Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.
Microorganisms and viruses: Joff Silberg
Dr. Joff Silberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of BioSciences and the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University. The objective of his research group is to elucidate and manipulate the functions of proteins.
Dr. Silberg’s biochemical research is focused on: (i) investigating how a protein’s mutational tolerance relates to structure and function, (ii) using structure-guided protein recombination to understand sequence-structure-function relationships, and (iii) understanding protein-mediated Fe-S cluster biogenesis reactions. Biomolecular design research in his group is focused on: (iv) developing new methods for laboratory evolution that accelerate our ability to overcome component limitations, (v) building new enzyme technologies for increasing spatial and temporal control over metabolic reactions, and (vi) engineering reporters for biosensing in hard-to-image conditions, e.g., animals, biochars, sediments, and soils. Combined expertise in biochemistry and biomolecular engineering puts him in a unique position to study living systems, taking advantage of classical methods for biochemical inquiry and develop and apply novel biotechnologies to support these lines of research. Dr. Silberg’s philosophy is that transformative advances occur when biological studies are extended to conditions that reflect those within living cells and the environment, and important synthetic biology advances occur when experimental observations can be anticipated using new physical models
Dr. Silberg received a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California-Irvine and B.S. degrees in Biology and Chemistry from the University of California-Irvine.
Human cells and tissues: Junghae Suh
Dr. Junghae Suh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University. A specialist in designing and investigating bio-inspired platforms for various applications in biomedicine, her Synthetic Virology Laboratory at Rice University combines broad-based knowledge of synthetic chemistry and molecular/cell biology to harness modern drug and gene delivery technologies and engineer their nanoscale properties for the detection and treatment of a number of human diseases and disorders. Her research has the potential to impact a variety of fields, including tissue engineering and biomedical imaging for early cancer detection.
Recent awards Suh has received include an Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) Hamill Innovation Award (2008 and 2013), a U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Concept Award (2009), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010), and a grant from the John S. Dunn Foundation to use modified viruses to target and kill metastatic cancer cells (2013). The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) recognized Suh as a Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (2014) for her development of tunable virus ‘nanonodes’ that target and are activated by protease enzyme combinations present around cancer and other diseased tissue sites. More recently, she was awarded the Outstanding New Investigator Award (2016) from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. Dr. Suh has published over twenty-eight publications in leading scientific journals.
Dr. Suh received a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and served as Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Dr. James Clomburg is a Research Scientist in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University and a Principal Investigator in the laboratory for Metabolic Engineering and Biomanufacturing. His research focuses on understanding and engineering of metabolic pathways for the utilization of abundant and sustainable feedstocks as well as the development and optimization of biological platforms for the production of organic molecules with applications in fuel, chemical, and pharmaceutical production.
He has lead various research projects in these areas combining broad-based knowledge of metabolic pathways, biochemical reactions, and microbial metabolism to design and optimize biological platforms for the conversion of various carbon sources to novel compounds through the implementation of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches. Dr. Clomburg has co-authored over twenty articles in leading scientific journals, including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Metabolic Engineering, and ACS Synthetic Biology and is an inventor in over fifteen patents or patent applications.
Dr. Clomburg received a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Rice University and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas.