Massive Reverse Genomics to Decipher Gene Regulatory Grammar
MRG-Grammar Artist in Residence - Anna Dumitriu
December 30, 2016
Future Emerging Art and Technology
The FEAT (Future Emerging Art and Technology) project partners some of Europe’s most innovative scientists with artists working at the cutting edge of technology to create a productive atmosphere where participating artists will learn new skills and work with novel materials, while scientists gain new perspectives and learn new ways to make their work to the public.
Anna Dumitriu is the FEAT artist partner and, as well as working with the co-ordination of the programme, is undertaking a residency with the European Future Emerging Technology Horizon 2020 project MRG-Grammar (Massive Reverse Genomics to Decipher Gene Regulatory Grammar). MRG-Grammar aims to devise a new strategy for deciphering the regulatory rules of gene regulation. Using Synthetic Biology, DNA synthesis and high-throughput analysis the project will generate new types of biological datasets that systematically explore all possible regulatory landscapes. The project will employ a strategy on diverse model organisms, from single cell to whole organism: bacteria, yeast, mouse ex-vivo cells, human cell-lines and finally, whole D. melanogaster and mouse embryos. The project expects its models to also serve as a reference in designing and implementing accurate and more controllable synthetic biology devices, with applications in fuel production, healthcare and other industrial fields.
Dumitriu has been in residence with The Teichmann Lab at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK in October 2016 to explore their work in trying to understand how enhancer genes influence the 1% of genes (in mammalian cells) that actually make proteins. In the future this area of research is likely to be hugely important in understanding health and disease.
Dumitriu has been working with Sarah Teichmann, Head of Cellular Genetics at the WT Sanger Institute, and researchers including Xi Chen, Michal Kosicki, and Tomas Pires de Carvalho Gomes, looking at ChIP-sequencing, the use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools, high throughput sequencing technologies for single cell genomics, and bioinformatics approaches to handing the large amounts of data produced.
In November 2016 Dumitriu travelled to The Segal Lab at the Weizmann Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel where she worked mainly with Adina Weinburger, Maya Lotan-Pompan and Hadas Elisar. As part of the project she learned to whole genome sequence her gut microbiome and developed an understanding of using synthetic DNA libraries to search for potential targets for novel antibiotics. She also gave a talk at the Weizmann Institute and also another for the public at DIYbio Israel, at the Google Campus Tel Aviv.
In December 2016 She travelled to Haifa and worked The Amit Synthetic Biology Laboratory for the Decipherment of Genomic Codes at Technion in Haifa, Israel to learn how to edit bacterial genomes in their regulatory regions. She also gave a talk at Technion on her work. She is returning to Haifa in 2017 to complete the work.
Dumitriu has worked extensively with bacteria as an artistic medium as well developing projects with whole genome sequencing and synthetic biology. By embedding herself in the research being undertaken by MRG Grammar she will build on her existing knowledge and learn about how gene expression is regulated. She will shadow researchers, work hands on in the lab and develop a new body of high impact artworks that explore and communicate MRG-Grammar’s research an accessible way. As this ongoing project evolves outcomes will be shared on this page.
“I work by developing in-depth collaborations through embedded residencies shadowing researchers and working hands on in the lab to understand the research, methods and processes. I use the raw materials of research to create my artworks, performances and participatory workshops. I am looking forward to building on my recent projects focusing on whole-genome sequencing and synthetic biology through my FEAT Residency.”
Anna Dumitriu is a British artist whose work fuses craft, technology and bioscience to explore our relationship to the microbial world, biomedicine and technology. She has an international exhibition profile, having exhibited at venues including The Picasso Museum in Barcelona, The Science Gallery in Dublin, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, and The V & A Museum in London. Her work is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum London and Eden Project. She is artist in residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project at the University of Oxford, a visiting research fellow: artist in residence in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Hertfordshire, and an honorary research fellow in the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. See links to projects, forthcoming talks or workshops above.