Jason Chin

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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Chin, Jason

Jason Chin is a Programme Leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), where he is also Head of the Centre for Chemical & Synthetic Biology (CCSB). He is joint appointed at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry & is a fellow and director of studies in Natural Sciences at Trinity College. Jason was an undergraduate at Oxford with John Sutherland, obtained his PhD as a Fulbright grantee from Yale with Alanna Schepartz, and was a Damon Runyon Fellow at Scripps with Peter Schultz.

He became an EMBO Young Investigator in 2005 and a tenured group leader in 2007. He was awarded the Francis Crick Prize by the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Corday Morgan Prize. He was also awarded the EMBO Gold Medal and elected to EMBO membership in 2010. He is the inaugural recipient of the Louis-Jeantet Young Investigator Career Award.

ABSTRACT: Reprogramming the Genetic Code

The information for synthesizing the molecules that allow organisms to survive and replicate is encoded in genomic DNA. In the cell, DNA is copied to messenger RNA, and triplet codons (64) in the messenger RNA are decoded – in the process of translation – to synthesize polymers of the natural 20 amino acids. This process (DNA RNA protein) describes the central dogma of molecular biology and is conserved in terrestrial life. We are interested in re-writing the central dogma to create organisms that synthesize proteins containing unnatural amino acids and polymers composed of monomer building blocks beyond the 20 natural amino acids. I will discuss our invention and synthetic evolution of new ‘orthogonal’ translational components (including ribosomes and aminoacyl- tRNA synthetases) to address the major challenges in re-writing the central dogma of biology. I will discuss the application of the approaches we have developed for incorporating unnatural amino acids into proteins and investigating and synthetically controlling diverse biological processes, with a particular emphasis on understanding the role of post-translational modifications.