Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series

2022-2023 Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Basic Sciences

“Designing Biology for a Healthy and Sustainable Future ”

Harris Wang, PhD

Harris Wang, PhD

Harris Wang, PhD

Associate Professor of Systems Biology and of Pathology and Cell Biology
Interim Chair, Department of Systems Biology


Monday, November 20, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.

Alumni Auditorium
650 W. 168th St., 1st Fl.
Reception to follow in the Schaefer Awards Gallery
Registration is required.

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ 



Harris Wang, PhD

Dr. Wang is associate professor of systems biology and of pathology & cell biology and the interim chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons with a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Columbia University Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his BS degrees in Mathematics and Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD in Biophysics and Medical Engineering Medical Physics from Harvard University, where he invented the first automated and multiplexed genome engineering platform.

Since joining Columbia in 2013, Dr. Wang has focused his research on building foundational technologies to program cells into low-cost diagnostics, personalized medicines, and living materials. He is broadly interested in the applications of synthetic biology, computational design, and multi-omics to explore the fundamental limits by which microbial and mammalian systems can be modified at a genome scale. These modifications allow for new functionalities and properties, such as pan-resistance to viruses, nutrient starvation, and radiation damage. In the area of the human microbiome, Dr. Wang has developed new methods to map the gut microbiome spatially and temporally at ultra-high resolution. He has also created automated platforms for culturing and studying microbes using a combination of robotics and machine learning. Dr. Wang introduced the concept of microbiome gene therapy, which has been applied to endow gut microbes with sensing and recording capabilities for intestinal inflammation and to eliminate problematic traits such as virulence and antimicrobial resistance. His lab has also developed self-healing and regenerative fungal-bacterial biocomposite materials that can sense and respond to different environments.

Dr. Wang’s honors and awards include earning the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, being a national finalist for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, and being named a Burroughs Wellcome Fund investigator. His other honors include the Schaefer Research Scholar, the NSF CAREER Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science in 2012, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House. Dr. Wang serves on the scientific advisory boards of numerous companies in the areas of CRISPR, biosecurity, microbiome, and gene therapy.



Past Distinguished Lecturers in the Basic Sciences

2021-22 – Carol Prives

2020-21 – Henry M. Colecraft

2019-20 – Wesley Grueber

2018-19 – Donna Farber

2017–18 – Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

2016–17 – Rene Hen

2015–16 – Steven L. Reiner

2014–15 – Frank Costantini

2013–14 – Richard Mann

2012–13 – Steven A. Siegelbaum

2010–11 – Andrea Califano

2008–09 – Robert S. Kass

2007–08 – Marian Carlson

2004–05 – James E. Rothman

2003–04 – Andrew Marks

2002–03 – Eric Gouaux

2001–02 – Vincent Racaniello

2000–01 – Virginia E. Papaioannou

1999–2000 – Lloyd A. Greene

1998–99 – Kathryn Calame

1997–98 – Gary Struhl

1996–97 – Michael D. Gershon

1995–96 – Thomas M. Jessell

1994–95 – Riccardo Dalla-Favera

1993–94 – Barry Honig

1992–93 – Argiris Efstratiadis

1991–92 – Stephen P. Goff

1990–91 – Arthur Karlin

1989–90 – Frederick Alt

1988–89 – Richard Axel

1987–88 – Wayne Hendrickson

1986–87 – Reinhold Benesch

1985–86 – Elvin Kabat

1984–85 – Harold Ginsberg

1983–84 – Eric Kandel

1982–83 – Brian Hoffman