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DNA: Not Merely the Secret of Life

Friday, Jun 13, 2014
1:30pm - 2:30pm
Room 521, Wyss Institute, 3 Blackfan Circle, Boston MA 02115


  • Ned Seeman, Ph.D.
  • Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor of Chemistry
  • New York University



We build branched DNA species that can be joined using Watson-Crick base pairing to produce N-connected objects and lattices. We have used ligation to construct DNA topological targets, such as knots, polyhedral catenanes, Borromean rings and a Solomon's knot. Nanorobotics is a key area of application. We have made robust 2-state and 3-state sequence-dependent devices and bipedal walkers. We have constructed a molecular assembly line using a DNA origami layer and three 2-state devices, so that there are eight different states represented by their arrangements. We have demonstrated that all eight products can be built from this system. One of the major aims of DNA-based materials research is to construct complex material patterns that can be reproduced. We have built such a system, which can reach 2 generations of replication. In a new system that demonstrates exponential growth, we are progressing towards selection of self-replicating materials. Recently, we have self-assembled a 3D crystalline array and reported its crystal structure to 4 Å resolution. We can use crystals with two molecules in the crystallographic repeat to control the color of the crystals. Rational design of intermolecular contacts has enabled us to improve crystal resolution to better than 3 Å. Thus, structural DNA nanotechnology has fulfilled its initial goal of controlling the internal structure of macroscopic constructs in three dimensions. A new era in nanoscale control awaits us.  


  • Co-host:

  • Peng Yin, Ph.D.
  • Core Faculty member, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
  •      at Harvard University
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School


  • William Shih, Ph.D.
  • Core Faculty member, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
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We've won a Webby Award!

Wyss Institute is proud to announce our win in the 2012
Webby Awards in the Science category.