The Inscripta Blog

October 12, 2020

Inside Inscripta: Tian Tian, Microbe

If the only thing you know about Inscripta is our Digital Genome Engineering technology, you’re missing out on a really important part of our story — our team! The employees who spend each day working so hard to change what’s possible in the world of CRISPR-based editing are Inscripta’s greatest asset. In this new blog series, we’ll profile team members to give you a better sense of who we are.

We begin with Tian Tian, Senior Scientist in our microbial product development group. She grew up in mainland China, earned her PhD in agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State University, and joined Inscripta in 2018.

What’s your role at Inscripta?

Inscripta has two divisions in cell biology, microbe and mammalian. I’m part of the microbe team. We develop the platform, reagents, and anything else that you need to do the gene editing process.

What brought you to the company?

I came across the cofounders’ Nature paper. At that time, it’s the first paper that described a complete and efficient workflow to do genome engineering in a high-throughput, trackable fashion. I got really excited when I saw the company had an open position. I also like the company’s business model, which combines high-throughput automation technology and biological engineering. I believe that biology is such a complex, difficult system to study, so we really need use all kinds of technologies (data mining, modeling, automation, microfluidics, etc.) to solve the biological challenges. I like the atmosphere and the culture here too. It’s really creative. I get to try a lot of the new ideas I have and learn new techniques. Inscripta is very data-driven and goal-oriented; that’s how this company is moving forward really fast.

How did you get into the genome editing field?

When CRISPR was discovered, it got huge attention and everybody wanted to study it. I deeply believe that this technology is going to have such a great impact on people’s health and life. So I started to explore the gene editing field in my postdoc with projects very similar to what Inscripta is developing.

What’s the most exciting thing about moving from genome reading to genome writing?

Gene reading is a tool for us to discover information about our DNA, but we don’t have any control of it. With genome editing, we now have that control, and it could open a whole new world in the prevention and treatment of human diseases. It is being explored in research on a wide variety of diseases, including single-gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and sickle cell disease, and it also holds promise for more complex diseases.

If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose and why?

I would try to cure cancer. The field is not mature enough to have this application yet, but a lot of emerging studies are focusing on editing the DNA of T cells to attack specific cancer cells. Nothing in the past could ever do something like this. It’s completely new and exciting.

Are you a reader or a writer?

I’m a reader. I prefer to observe rather than express.

What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?

I grew up by the ocean, and when I was a kid I was really into sea animals. I loved spending time with them.

What’s your favorite vacation?

Going to the ocean and spending my whole day there, just swimming and catching some fish or collecting shells.