Programmable Microbial Foundry for a Sustainable Living Materials Technology
The present-day world showcases remarkable materials that have enabled our way of life, but they rarely account for the anthropogenic effects due to their make-use-dispose practices. In contrast to humans’ heat-beat-treat strategies, biological systems produce materials with exceptional properties at ambient conditions from abundantly available benign components and also provide a template for circular materials economy. Inspired by Nature's elegant designs and living cell’s extraordinary manufacturing capabilities, I have been programming microbes to serve as living factories to make materials that are known as Living Materials, which is an emerging field that integrates synthetic biology, materials engineering and nanotechnology. In addition to the basis and vision of Living Materials Technology, in this talk, I will present my pioneering contributions to the field, wherein I have designed and developed: 1) the world’s first water-processable, biodegradable and coatable bioplastic termed as AquaPlastic; 2) the world’s first programmable microbial Ink for 3D printing of Living Materials and 3) stiff and strong Living Materials that can regenerate itself. Some of these efforts are regarded as a paradigm shift to biomanufacturing technology, which is believed to contribute towards building a sustainable world.
Bio: Avinash obtained his PhD on Bioinspired Molecular and Materials Engineering at JNCASR, Bengaluru, India. He then moved to Harvard University as a Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow to work on Living Materials by Engineering Microbes to produce Sustainable Materials with Integrated Life-like Properties. His research interests are at the interface of Synthetic Biology, Bioinspired Materials Engineering, Nanotechnology, Microbial Factories and Sustainability. In 2020, he was chosen as one of the World’s top 35 Innovators under 35 by Technology Review (TR35) of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was the Grand Prize Winner of American National Science Foundation (NSF) Idea Machine (Big Idea) competition and recognized with Deep Tech Pioneer and Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards. He was also selected for the Innovation Scholars In-Residence Program by the President of India and Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program.