Mustafa Khammash, Ph.D., Professor, ETH Zürich, Harnessing Cybergenetics: New Horizons in Engineering Biology

Date and Time
ENGR II, 1519
Portrait of Mustafa Khammash
Portrait of Mustafa Khammash


Mustafa Khammash, Ph.D.

Professor of Control Theory and Systems Biology in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-​BSSE)                                     

ETH Zürich

Faculty Host: Prof. Enoch Yeung


Title: Harnessing Cybergenetics: New Horizons in Engineering Biology



Cybergenertics refers to the application of control and communications concepts to regulate genetic systems. This may be achieved by using light to dynamically interconnect living cells with digital computers in order to achieve precise real-time closed-loop control. Alternatively, regulation can also be achieved by engineering genetic control systems in living cells that function to steer their dynamics to desired states. Here we present several biological and technological platforms for cybergenetics and demonstrate their use in a multitude of synthetic biology, industrial, and medical biotechnolgy applications.



Prof. Mustafa Khammash is the Professor of Control Theory and Systems Biology at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich. His educational journey began with a B.S. degree from Texas A & M University in 1986, followed by a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University in 1990.

After completing his Ph.D., he joined Iowa State University, where he established the Dynamics and Control Program and led the control group until 2002. He then moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he was a member of the Mechanical Engineering faculty. At UCSB, he held positions such as the Vice Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department (2003-2006) and the Director of the Center for Control, Dynamical Systems, and Computation (2005-2011). In 2011, he transitioned to Switzerland, joining ETH Zurich. There, he has served in various capacities, including the head of the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering.

His lab develops theoretical, computational, and experimental technologies at the interface of control theory, systems biology, and synthetic biology. A key area of his recent work is in the development of Cybergenetics in synthetic biology, where his group has made significant strides in real-time control of living cells, impacting fields like industrial biotechnology, tissue engineering, and medical therapy.

Dr. Khammash is a Fellow of IEEE, a Fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control, and a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He is a recipient of the Engineering Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant and the Swiss National Science Foundation Advanced Grant.