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Katie Galloway receives NIH award to develop foundational tools for cellular engineering

Using a combination of stem cell biology, systems biology, synthetic biology, and chromatin engineering, the Galloway lab will define the molecular regulatory rules of cell-fate transitions.
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Photo of Katie Galloway standing in a colorful hallway, with arms folded and smiling at the camera
Katie Galloway
Photo: Webb Chappell

Katie Galloway, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, has received a highly prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award, which grants $1.94 million over five years, will support Galloway’s work to develop multiscale tools and approaches for understanding and engineering cell-fate transitions.

Harnessing these design rules will enable the forward design of sophisticated genetic programs capable of robustly regulating gene expression in primary cells to support gene- and cell-based therapies for application in regenerative medicine.

“Our work aims to understand the molecular processes that support cell-fate transitions such as occur in development, reprogramming, and cancer,” says Galloway. “Using novel reporter circuits, we are identifying the processes that support the rare events that drive this cell-fate transition. By understanding how cells change fate, we aim to develop the next generation of synthetic gene circuits for tissue regeneration and repair.”

As a chemical engineer working in molecular systems biology, Galloway’s research focuses on elucidating the fundamental principles of integrating synthetic circuitry to drive cellular behaviors. Her lab works on developing integrated gene circuits and elucidating the systems-level principles that govern complex cellular behaviors.

Galloway’s team leverages synthetic biology to transform how we understand cellular transitions and engineer cellular therapies. Her research has been featured in Science, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Systems, and Development. Along with the recent MIRA, she has won multiple fellowships and awards including the NIH F32, and Caltech’s Everhart Award. Galloway studied chemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and obtained her PhD in chemical engineering at Caltech. She was a postdoc at USC Stem Cell within the University of Southern California before starting at MIT as an assistant professor in the summer of 2019.

The MIRA program supports investigators’ overall research programs through a single, unified grant rather than individual project grants. The goal is to provide investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences supports basic research that increases our understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

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