Rules of Composition in Synthetic Biology Across Scales of Complexity: Theory and Tools

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The goal of this project is to establish theoretical foundations and tools, grounded on mathematics, that will enable compositional design of synthetic biology circuits while accounting for context. These tools will substitute currently used ad hoc procedures that design systems in a monolithic fashion by brute force optimization of parameters, thereby allowing to scale up the complexity of systems that we can build, shorten the design cycle, and achieve quantitative performance.

Current participants:

Additional participants:


  • Domitilla Del Vecchio, Jim Collins, Katie Galloway, Michael Laub (MIT)
  • Eduardo Sontag (Northeastern)

Past participants:



Caltech is contributing to the following objectives for this project

  • Establish tools to certify system behavior against a specification through scales of model complexity, with increased complexity required to account for undesired connectivity.
  • Establish tools for subsystem specification decomposition, reducing the design problem of a multi-module system to that of its composing subsystems, thereby reducing the complexity of the parameter selection problem.


This research is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) under MURI grant FA9550-22-1-0316.

  • Agency: AFOSR
  • Grant number: FA9550-22-1-0316
  • Start date: 1 Jul 2022
  • End date: 30 Jun 2027
  • Support: 2 graduate students
  • Reporting: Annual reports