We can think of cells as tiny computers. To function, cells read and execute instructions based on code written as a DNA sequence.
In our lab, we use genetics to understand how much of that code contains information. We study epigenetics to understand how the code is modified by the environment and prior experience. And we develop biological engineering (a.k.a. synthetic biology) approaches to write novel code in order to change cells and organisms. Our organism of choice is C. elegans mainly because of it’s amenability to genetic engineering and small nervous system (302 neurons).
One of our long-term goals is to be able to control every neuron independently as well as adding neurons to the network.