NSF Center for Genetically Encoded Materials

Repurposing the translational apparatus to establish a fundamentally new form of chemical matter–sequence-defined chemical polymers

C-GEM. Transforming the very fabric of society.

Our mission

C-GEM is establishing a fundamentally new way to program chemical matter and transform the way scientists design and produce materials and medicines. Using computation and experiment, C-GEM is repurposing nature’s protein synthesizing machine–the ribosome and its associated translation factors–to biosynthesize genetically encoded, sequence-defined chemical polymers with unprecedented functions and activities. Our combined activities span the fields of chemical biology, synthetic biology, synthetic chemistry, structural biology, computational biology, and molecular biology, and are highly collaborative. To catalyze these efforts, C-GEM implemented GEM-NET, a sophisticated data management system to promote data sharing within and outside the team, and with industry, the NSF, and the public. By fostering innovation at the chemical-biology-materials frontier, C-GEM is establishing a diverse chemical workforce, perfecting the integration of research with training, and captivating scientists and non-scientists alike.

Solve puzzles for science.

Eterna is a scientific discovery game where citizen scientists can contribute to cutting-edge RNA research! Players are tasked to design RNA molecules in response to specific challenges, then these designs are tested in the lab and results returned to players. This iterative design-test-analyze cycle has led to many discoveries and publications!