What’s one of the most important elements for introducing a game-changing technology like our Onyx® Genome Engineering Platform? A team of highly skilled scientists to put it through its paces, testing it at every step. For that, we count on people like Scientist Gözde Gencer, who works in our Pleasanton facility. She is originally from Turkey and joined Inscripta in 2020 after earning her PhD in biological engineering at Cornell University.
What’s your role at Inscripta?
I work for the Systems Integration group, which is part of Inscripta’s product development unit. As the name implies, our group is at the intersection of hardware, software, and biology to make sure every component of the Onyx system works in harmony. We adopt benchtop protocols that are automation-friendly and ensure that our hardware and software stack meet our customers’ biology needs. This means I get the chance to spend a significant amount of time working with the Onyx instrument.
What brought you to Inscripta?
My interest in synthetic biology goes back to my bachelor’s degree years. Back in 2012, I participated in an event called the International Genetically Engineered Machine, or iGEM, competition. This competition helped me to see the possibilities synthetic biology can offer to address a wide range of world problems, including medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. iGEM was a great introduction to synthetic biology and after that I wanted to build my career in this field. I first heard about Inscripta through the SynBioBeta newsfeed. I thought the opening in the Systems Integration group was a great chance not only to work in a multidisciplinary team, but also to learn more about their technology, which enables massively parallel genome engineering in a fully automated fashion.
If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose?
I would pursue live biotherapeutics — in other words, engineering microorganisms for diagnosis, treatment, and management of human diseases. Our bodies are already fine-tuned to work together with a wide range of microbes, and a good example of that is the human gut, where billions of microbes help us on a daily basis. It would be exciting to utilize the Onyx platform to advance the development of synthetic microbes as a valid alternative to current diagnostics and drug-based therapies, where microbes can be used to sense pathogens, inflammation markers, and even tumors.
What’s the best career advice you have to share?
Find good mentors. It could be during any stage of your career, and it doesn’t have to be someone who will give you technical feedback. During my PhD I was lucky to have mentors in my lab who helped me get through the challenges of my project. My husband is one of my mentors. He’s a software engineer, but he really helps me think about my career development.
What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?
Spending time with my extended family. I grew up in Turkey, and my parents are from the same hometown. We would spend our summers with my cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It would be really nice to spend my summer holidays that way again.
What’s your favorite vacation?
Before I came to the U.S., I probably would have said a beach vacation. But my preferences have changed a little after I moved here. Right now, the best vacation would be going somewhere uncrowded, far away from the city, where we can hike in a forest or mountain reserve. I really like the national park culture here.