Harris Wang

Harris Wang


Assistant Professor, Department of Systems Biology


Department of Systems Biology
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology
JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center
Center for Cancer Systems Therapeutics


(212) 305-1697

Harris Wang is as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Biology and Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. His research focuses on understanding the evolution of the ecosystems that develop within heterogeneous microbial communities. Using approaches from genome engineering, DNA synthesis, and next-generation sequencing, he studies how genomes in microbial populations form, maintain themselves, and change over time, both within and across microbial communities. His goal is to use synthetic biology approaches to engineer ecologies of microbial populations, such as those found in the gut and elsewhere in the human body, in ways that could improve human health.

Dr. Wang earned his BS in physics and applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his PhD in biophysics at Harvard University, where, as a graduate student in George Church’s laboratory, he developed a technique called Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE). This approach made it possible to produce synthetic organisms with novel properties, and to accelerate the process of directed evolution of gene networks and genomes. Most recently, he was a Wyss Technology Development Fellow and member of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard University.

Dr. Wang has been recognized as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow, Grand Prize winner in the 2009 Collegiate Inventors Competition, and a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Early Independence Award. Forbes magazine also named him among its “30 Under 30” in science.

More News


Harris Wang Named Recipient of Presidential Early Career Award
The PECASE is considered the United States’ highest award for early career scientists and engineers, recognizing exceptional innovation and leadership at the frontiers of knowledge and technology development.
A Grand Challenge for Genome Engineering: GP-write
In June 2016 an international consortium announced an ambitious proposal to develop new technologies for synthesizing large genomes. Virginia Cornish and Harris Wang discuss what the effort hopes to achieve.
Columbia Awarded NCI Center for Cancer Systems Biology
The Center for Cancer Systems Therapeutics (CaST) is developing a framework that can account for the dynamic nature of cancer and use this knowledge to disrupt the programs that maintain tumor survival.
Wang Lab Work on Bioeconomics Featured in Wall Street Journal
A collaboration between a biologist and an economist led to a new framework for describing how bacteria exchange metabolic resources. It offers a new lens for studying microbial communities based on economic theories.
Department of Systems Biology Opens New Biotechnology Development Hub
The new space will promote the design of new experimental methods for studying biological systems, and enable an expansion of the Columbia Genome Center's next-generation sequencing capabilities.
Columbia Launches Undergraduate Synthetic Biology Team
For this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM) competition, the team used synthetic biology methods to engineer edible probiotic bacteria that could regulate hunger and digestion.
Harris Wang Named Office of Naval Research Young Investigator
The project will focus on developing a new, targeted genome engineering approach, expanding the library of useful plasmid vectors, and exploring new DNA transformation methods in microbial communities.
Functional Metagenomics Enables First Study of Bacterial Fitness in the Gut Microbiome
A new method called TFUMseq offers a relatively simple way to study the dynamics of the microbiome, and to engineer bacterial strains to thrive in the gut.
Harris Wang Named Winner of Sloan Research Fellowship
This prestigious award for early-career scientists will support work that combines methods from synthetic biology and computational biology to study how horizontal gene transfer contributes to microbial evolution.
New Directions in Genome Engineering: An Interview with Harris Wang
Dr. Wang describes (MO)-MAGE, a new technology he developed for mutating large numbers of genes in a targeted way, and the exciting opportunities it offers for the field of synthetic biology.
Harris Wang Joins Columbia
Dr. Wang uses approaches from systems and synthetic biology to understand the principles behind the formation, maintenance, and evolution of genomes in microbial populations, with the goal of engineering ecologies of microbes in ways that could improve human health.