Experts in Fatty Acid/Polyketide Metabolism and Microbial Engineering

Unique Expertise in Fatty Acid/Polyketide Metabolism and Microbial Engineering:
CBiRC has assembled a world-class team of scientists that are well known for their work on fatty acid/ polyketide metabolism and microbial metabolic engineering. The team is focused on the enzymes involved in Claisen condensation-based carbon-chain extension and chain termination with the aim of directing the process of fatty acid assembly in microbes.

The enzymes and proteins of interest include:

  • 3-ketoacyl-ACP Synthase,
  • Acetoacetyl-CoA
  • Acetyl-CoA/Propionyl-CoA Synthetase
  • Acyl-CoA Carboxylases
  • Methylketone Synthase
  • Thioesterases
  • Biocatalysts of the Acetyl-CoA Condensation
  • Fatty Acid Elongase
  • Biotin.

Overall Aim of the Center:
The overall aim is to engineer microbes in order to direct glucose utilization to the fatty acid or polyketide biosynthetic pathways with a goal of enhancing microbial production through targeted engineering. Combining biocatalysis with chemical catalysis opens the door to the fatty acid or polyketide-based platform chemicals (examples include carboxylic acids, ring structures and bifunctional molecules) at the heart of CBiRC’s vision.

Faculty involved in Enzyme Engineering:
Project Name: 3-ketoacyl-ACP Synthase, Acetoacetyl-CoA: Acetyl-CoA/Propionyl-CoA Synthetase; Acyl-CoA Carboxylases; Methylketone Synthase/Thioesterase; Thioesterases; Biocatalysts of the Acetyl-CoA Condensation; Fatty Acid Elongase; Biotin.

  1. Basil J. Nikolau Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology Iowa State University
  2. Joseph P. Noel Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology & Proteomics Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  3. Peter J. Reilly Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  4. Thomas A. Bobik Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology Iowa State University
  5. David J. Oliver Genetics, Development & Cell Biology Iowa State University
  6. Eran Pichersky Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology University of Michigan

Faculty involved in Microbial Metabolic Engineering:
Project Name: Bioinformatics; Flux Analysis; Omics Experiments; Strain Characterization and Optimization

  1. Nancy A. Da Silva Chemical Engineering & Materials Science University of California – Irvine
  2. Julie A. Dickerson Electrical & Computer Engineering Iowa State University
  3. Ramon Gonzalez Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering W. M. Rice University
  4. Laura R. Jarboe Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  5. Ka-Yiu San Bioengineering W. M. Rice University
  6. Jacqueline V. Shanks Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  7. Eve S. Wurtele Genetics, Development & Cell Biology Iowa State University
  8. Suzanne B. Sandmeyer Biological Chemistry University of California –Irvine

NSF Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program

CBiRC is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Generation Three (Gen-3) Engineering Research Center. The Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) promote partnerships among researchers in different disciplines and between industry and universities.

Three with engineering ties win Women of Innovation Award

On November 11, 2010, the Technology Association of Iowa honored 46 women leaders from across the state and awarded 10 professionals, academicians, and students with Women of Innovation awards. Julie Dickerson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Nicola Pohl, professor of chemistry and chemical and biological engineering; and Emma White, PhD student in materials science and engineering, were among the winners.
Click here for details.

Industry Program

CBiRC Collaboration
The objective of the Industrial Collaboration and Innovation Program is to build and sustain an active collaboration between CBiRC’s academic partners and its innovation and industry members. The Program provides a rich resource of knowledge and practical experience that will deliver fundamental scientific discovery and innovation to its members.

NSF Launches an ERC for Biorenewable Chemicals

NSF Launches an ERC for Biorenewable Chemicals
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announces an award to Iowa State University and its partners to establish a new NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC). The ERC will develop interdisciplinary research and education programs that address an important societal issue and provide the foundation for new industries through innovation. NSF will invest $18.5 million in the Center over the next five years…

CBiRC Education Program

Brent Shanks teaching Chemical Catalysis
CBiRC has an extensive educational mission, including: (1) Educating pre-college teachers; (2) Educating pre-college students; (3) Providing hands-on research experiences to undergraduates; and (4) Providing novel graduate curricula for students in CBiRC-allied fields. CBiRC is leveraging existing multidisciplinary efforts in biorenewables education at Iowa State University to accomplish its mission.

Research Program

CBiRC’s pioneering research programs are focused on developing technologies that enable the production of biorenewable chemicals. CBiRC will achieve this by harnessing the combined power of biotechnology and catalysis to deliver a broad platform of innovations that cost-effectively convert renewable materials into chemical feedstocks. These biorenewable feedstocks will support the production of biorenewable chemicals within a sustainable chemical industry. To achieve these goals, CBiRC has organized into seven interconnected programs including: Biocatalysis Research, Microbial Engineering Research, Chemical Catalysis Research, Testbeds, Life Cycle Assessment, Industry Collaboration and Innovation, and a unique Education Program in biorenewable chemicals that covers both biological and chemical catalysis.

Based at:

NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC),

1140 Biorenewables Research Laboratory, 617 Bissell Road, Ames, Iowa 50011-1098, (515) 294-8354,

fax: (515) 294-1269,

Copyright 2008, Iowa State University of Science and Technology. All rights reserved.

An NSF ERC since 2008

An NSF ERC since 2008

Do you know?

You recognize these products, but do you know where they come from?
Polymers, Paints, Coatings, Resins, Industrial Chemicals, Packaging, Bottles, Containers, Inks, Dyes, Adhesives, Sealants, Construction Chemicals, Surfactants, Cleaning Agents, Specialty Chemicals, Food additives, Flavorings, Fragrances, Cosmetics….

The answer is….
Most of the world’s fuels and carbon-based chemicals are sourced from fossil carbon, with a relatively minor contribution (10%) from biorenewable sources.