The College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin

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Hal Alper
Assistant Professor

Main Office: CPE 5.408
Phone: 512-471-4417

Mailing Address
200 E. Dean Keeton St.
CPE 5.408
Austin ,TX 78712

Hal Alper

Research Summary

Our reserach focuses on engineering biology to produce biomolecules, biofuels, and pharmaceuticals using the tools of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. The overall goal of metabolic and cellular engineering is to endow novel and useful properties to cellular systems. Recent advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering empower metabolic engineers with an increasing ability to create any desired cellular modification. The integration of these approaches with an ever-increasing database of knowledge about these cellular systems (due in part to genomic sequencing efforts) provides an unprecedented opportunity to engineer cellular systems. Our research group focuses on the integration and implementation of these tools and knowledge for the design, production, and elicitation of phenotypes relevant to biotechnological processes and medical interest.

Using a variety of host systems including microbial (eg. Escherichia coli), fungal (eg. yeast), and mammalian (eg. Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells), we seek to develop the necessary genetic tools and methodologies for creating industrially-relevant organisms for biomolecules, biofuels, and biopharmaceuticals. To accomplish this task, traditional pathway engineering will be utilized in conjunction with novel tools for introducing genetic control (such as global Transcription Machinery Engineering, promoter libraries, and gene mutagenesis).

Our Research Goals:

•To develop new strategies and tools for the engineering and cultivation of cellular systems applicable to both eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems

•To develop suitable host strains (both mammalian and microbial) for the high level production of value-added products and bioactive molecules

•To understand and engineer complex cellular phenotypes, including disease states, in an effort to identify novel genetic targets

•To develop molecular biology tools which allow for both tunable and combinatorial control of gene expression and regulatory networks

•To develop strategies for engineering cellular systems through protein engineering and evolution



Bio Sci students