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


The Gates Foundation Funds the Wang Lab’s Efforts in Global Health Study
Dr. Harris Wang and systems biology graduate student, Ravi Sheth, have been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help advance a global health project aimed at reducing childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The project incorporates Dr. Wang’s innovative microbiome research techniques to study the antibiotic, Azithromycin, and understanding its role as an intervention for improving childhood survival rates in low-resource settings.
New Resource for Controlling Gene Expression in Bacteria
Advances in synthetic biology have already spurred innovation in the areas of drug development, chemical production and health diagnostics. To help push the field even further, and potentially at a more rapid pace, a new, comprehensive resource devised by Columbia University researchers will help synthetic biologists better engineer designs for complex biological systems.
World's Smallest Tape Recorder is Built from Microbes
In new research, Harris Wang presents a novel, scalable framework to record time-based biological signals into genomes of bacterial population using the CRISPR-Cas adaptation system. This work enables the measurement of dynamic cellular states and environmental changes, and suggests new applications for chronicling biological events on a large scale.
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.