Aug 20, 2019
Professor Sri Kosuri

On August 14, 2019, members of the department gathered to celebrate the recent promotion and tenure of Professor Sriram “Sri” Kosuri.

Faculty, staff, and graduate students gathered in Cafe Commons to congratulate Kosuri on his promotion. Before leading the group in a toast, Department Chair Professor Neil Garg commended Kosuri on his research excellence, exceptional teaching, and service to the Department and UCLA. 

Select photos can be viewed below and a photo gallery of additional photos can be viewed here.
 

(Left) Dean of Physical Sciences Miguel García-Garibay, Professor Sri Kosuri, Department Chair Neil Garg. (Right) Kosuri thanked everyone for their support and good wishes.
 

Faculty, staff, and graduate students listen to Kosuri's remarks. 

Professor Sri Kosuri joined the faculty of the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry as an assistant professor in 2014. He has won numerous early career awards, including the 2014 National Institute of Health (NIH) Director's New Innovator Award, and the 2015 Searle Scholar Award. Kosuri’s research group works on building new methods to explore relationships between DNA sequence and function by combining next-generation sequencing, gene synthesis, genome engineering, and multiplexed reporters. His laboratory has used these tools to investigate different problems spanning protein biochemistry, gene regulation, human genetics, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and functional genomics. 


The Kosuri research group in Zion in 2019.

Kosuri received his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001, where he conducted research on bacterial systems biology with Professor Adam Arkin. In 2007, he received his Sc.D. degree in biological engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working with Professor Drew Endy. From 2007-2009, he was the first employee of Joule Unlimited, an engineered algal biofuel company which develops fuels from light and CO2 using engineered cyanobacteria. From 2009-2013, he went to the newly formed Wyss Institute working with Professor George Church, where he conducted research on next-generation technologies in DNA synthesis and multiplexed assays of gene expression.

His group’s work has spanned a diverse series of projects. The group has published several technological innovations in engineering large libraries of genetic changes into both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells using Crispr-Cas9 and oligo-mediated recombination. They have continued work exploring new methodologies in gene synthesis, including the development of DropSynth, an innovative low-cost method of building thousands of designed gene sequences. They have combined these new engineering capabilities with ways to assess the functional consequence of these changes all at once (“in multiplex”) using genetically barcoded reporters and next-generation sequencing. They have developed many multiplexed assays to assess a range of genetic functions such as transcription, translation, RNA splicing, gene function, protein-protein interactions, and protein-ligand interactions. A major effort of his laboratory in recent years has been to extend these approaches to human biology, where they have investigated how combinations of transcription factor binding affects enhancer function, how rare genetic variation affects exon recognition, and the exploration of protein ligand interactions of G-protein coupled receptors. 

For the last three years, Kosuri was a faculty-in-residence, where he and his family lived amongst over 15,000 students on “the hill”. There he developed and participated in numerous activities aimed at helping students bridge their academic, professional, and personal lives. Kosuri taught several courses including physical biochemistry for the last five years, as well as developing a Fiat Lux course centered on the societal implications of new biotechnologies. In 2017, Kosuri co-founded a new drug discovery startup called Octant, which is further developing and commercializing work developed at UCLA. In particular, Octant is developing methods that allows for the comprehensive and large-scale mapping of how small molecules interact with important classes of human drug targets starting with G-protein coupled receptors, which are the target of more than half of all prescriptions. The company was incubated at UCLA in the Magnify accelerator located in the California NanoSystems Institute. For the next two years, Kosuri he will be on leave from UCLA and working at Octant at their newly built location on the Berkeley/Emeryville border. 

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.