Metabolic Engineering - Cellular Engineering - Protein Engineering - Synthetic Biology - Biosensors
Our research group does application driven fundamental research to enable solutions to problems in sustainable chemical production, human health, and national defense. We use genetic engineering and molecular biotechnology to create biomolecules and biosystems with improved properties for various applications. We use a variety biochemical and biophysical methods to characterize these systems. Our projects are described below.
Metabolic & Cellular Engineering of Oleochemical Production - We are engineering yeast to be efficient producers of oleochemicals such as omega-3 fatty acids, specialty fatty acids, dicarboxylic acids, and fatty alcohols. This work involves cloning non-native genes into new microbes, and metabolic engineering to improve pathway flux. This work is supported by funding from the NSF, NASA, USDA, and FPRF.
Researchers: Difeng Gao, Michael Spagnuolo, Vijay Ganesen, Allison Yaguchi, Matt Brabender, Meredith Bailey, Spencer Smith
Collaborators: Ian Wheeldon (UCR), Chris Saski (CU)
Metabolic & Cellular Engineering of Natural Products - We are engineering yeast to be efficient producers of natural product compounds. This work involves cloning non-native genes into new microbes, and cellular/metabolic engineering to improve pathway flux. This work is supported by funding from the NSF.
Researchers: Vijay Ganesen
Collaborators: Ian Wheeldon (UCR)
Engineering Utilization of Non-Conventional Feedstocks - We are engineering microbial systems to utilize more recalcitrant and ill-defined feedstocks. Our work includes engineering of xylose metabolism, lignin metabolism, as well utilization of process and human wastes. This work is supported by funding from the NSF, NASA, DOE, USDA, and FPRF.
Researchers: Difeng Gao, Allison Yaguchi, Michael Spagnuolo, Dyllan Rives, Matt Brabender, Scott Anglin, Spencer Smith
Collaborators: Mark Thies (CU), John Hogan (NASA), Yi Zheng (CU)
Yeast & Mammalian Synthetic Biology - We are engineering advanced, fine-tuned, and metabolite responsive genetic engineering tools that enable more precise engineering of non-conventional yeast. We aim to create novel gene expression systems, and genome editing tools, such as CRISPR-Cas9. This work is supported by funding from the NSF, NASA, and FPRF.
Researchers: Difeng Gao, Michael Spagnuolo, Allison Yaguchi, Spencer Smith, Vijay Ganesen, Scott Anglin, Charles Wang
Collaborators: Ian Wheeldon (UCR), Marc Birtwistle (CU)
Engineering Yeast & Mammalian Protein Secretion - We are engineering yeast and CHO cells to be more efficient in sereting enzymes and biopharmaceuticals at high levels. We aim to address several bottlenecks hinding high productivities through genetic engineering, metabolic engineering, and cellular engineering. This work is supported by funding from NSF I/UCRC and DOE.
Researchers: Dyllan Rives, Scott Anglin
Collaborators: Sarah Harcum (CU)
Microbial Radiation Biosensors - We are studying metabolic response and tolerance to different types and doses of ionizing radiation. We are working towards engineering systems that discriminate source and dose of radiation that can be autonomously deployed to report on nuclear weapons proliferation.
Researchers: Molly Wintenberg, Alex Summers
Collaborators: Nicole Martinez (CU), Lisa Manglass (CU), Adam Willey (CU)
Protein Engineering for Biosensing Applications - We are studying protein-polymer interactions in tethered systems useful for biosensing applications. We are also studying extremophile enzyme structures in order to learn how enzymes can be engineered for functionality across a wide range of temperatures and environmental conditions. Our work is focused on improving enzyme activity in biosensing applications. This work is supported by funding from the US Air Force and DTRA.
Researchers: Weigao Wang, Max Hilbert
Collaborators: Sapna Sarupria and Siva Dasetty (CU)
Engineering Molecular Biomechanical Sensing Proteins - Our work seeks to engineer novel protein seuqences that are able to repsond to applies shear or tensile forces. Such constructs can be used to fundamentally understand force-regulated biological processes, such as blood clotting, and in therapies for stroke and blood clotting disorders.
Collaborators: Nathan Hudson (East Carolina University)
The Blenner Research Group is seeking 1-2 graduate students starting in Fall 2018. Prospective students interested in research in the Blenner Research Group should apply to the Clemson University graduate program in the College of Engineering & Science. Clemson graduate students and applying students interested in the Blenner Lab should email here.
MS Students enrolled at Clemson are welcome to do research in our lab. Interested student should send a CV and a brief statement of interests to Dr. Blenner.
Undergraduate research positions are available only for students willing to spend significant time training and working on high impact research leading to publication in a scholarly journal. Students must be able to work and think independently, must be detailed oriented, and can become meticulous in record keeping. Undergraduates who are interested in protein engineering or synthetic biology for biofuels, sustainable chemical production, or protein therapeutics should send a CV and brief statement of interests here.
Calhoun Honors Students
Current Honors students interested in doing their thesis research in the Blenner lab should contact Dr. Blenner.
Learn more about our project, "Bacterial Biotechnology; Microbial Sensors & Enzyme Engineering" on the Creative Inquiry website.
Learn more about our project, "Engineering Yeast for Sustainable Production of Chemicals and Nutraceuticals" on the Creative Inquiry website.
Learn more about our project, "Engineering Protein Post-Translational Modifications for Therapeutics" on the Creative Inquiry website.
Preference will be given to students that are willing to train during the summer.