Dr. Chayasith received his A.B. degree in chemistry from Harvard, during which he worked in the laboratory of Professor Gregory Verdine on the design and synthesis of mechanism-based inhibitors of DNA repair enzymes. He then obtained his PhD in biological chemistry from MIT under the mentorship of Professor Alice Ting. As a PhD student, Dr. Chayasith developed several chemical biology tools, including the first fluorophore ligase for protein labeling in cells, the fastest variant of biocompatible metal-catalyzed click chemistry, and a general route for chemical masking of sulfonated compounds for cellular delivery. After completing his PhD, Dr. Chayasith won a Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellowship and joined Professor Jason Chin’s laboratory at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. There, Dr. Chayasith developed genetic code expansion as a tool for live-cell and super-resolution imaging of cellular proteins, as well as an engineered stapled ribosome, which enables directed evolution of new ribosome function. Dr. Chayasith was also a college research associate at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he took part in supervision of Natural Sciences undergraduate students. Dr. Chayasith joined the BSE division of VISTEC in 2018 as a lecturer.
Synthetic biology for biopolymer synthesis and bioremediation
Our research lies at the interface of chemistry, biology, and engineering. We want to understand how the synthesis of biopolymers--particularly proteins—is regulated in space and time within living cells, and how precise control of protein synthesis drives differential protein function under different contexts. We also want to leverage our knowledge of (bio)polymer synthesis and degradation to devise environmentally sustainable ways to make novel materials, as well as to break down existing consumer materials that pose a dire threat to the environment. We are technologists at heart, and are driven to develop new tools—biological, chemical or biophysical—to address these challenges.