Core Faculty

Keith E.J. Tyo

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

2145 Sheridan Road


Evanston, IL 60208-3109

k-tyo( at )


Ph.D., M.S., MIT, Cambridge, MA

B.S., West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Haslam Presidential Fellow, MIT

NIH Kirschstein NRSA Fellow, Chalmers University of Technology

Searle Leadership Award

Research Interests

What we do
Microbes must cope with harsh, rapidly changing environments to survive. To do this, microbes have developed sophisticated mechanisms to (a) sense the changes in the environment, and (b) respond quickly to these changes to protect itself from harm or capitalize on an opportunity. Our lab seeks to rewire these fundamental input/output relationships to program cells to do useful things for mankind in a paradigm called synthetic biology. Inputs: We study methods to modify existing environmental detection sensors in yeast and modify them to detect new analytes. Outputs: We investigate ways microbes modify their metabolic networks and use these modifications to increase production of a given metabolite.

Why we do it
Synthetic biology offers a disruptive technology that has vast potential to impact the most important facets of our lives. The way we diagnose diseases, the drugs we use, the fuels we put in our cars, the plastic that is used in our potato chip bag - we have the opportunity to improve the sustainability of our lifestyle. And by reducing costs, we can make aspects of our lifestyle available to those who could not otherwise afford it. We hope to offer technical contributions that, simply put, make the world a better place.

Selected Publications

  • Liu, Zihe; Petranovic, Dina; Nielsen, Jens; Tyo, Keith E.J.; Magnusson, Ylva, “Impact of protein uptake and degradation on recombinant protein secretion in yeast”, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, (2014)
  • Rodrguez-Limas, William A; Sekar, Karthik; Tyo, Keith EJ, “Virus-like particles: the future of microbial factories and cell-free systems as platforms for vaccine development”, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, (2013)
  • Tyo, Keith; Kording, Konrad P.; Glaser, Joshua I.; Zamft, Bradley M.; Marblestone, Adam H., “Statistical Analysis of Molecular Signal Recording”, PLoS Computational Biology, (2013)
  • M. Moura, L. Broadbelt, K. Tyo, ““Computational Tools for Guided Discovery and Engineering of Metabolic Pathways" in Methods in Molecular Biology: Systems Metabolic Engineering: Methods and Protocols”, Springer, (2013)
  • Liu, Z.; Tyo, K. E. J.; Petranovic, D.; Nielsen, J., “Imbalance of heterologous protein folding and disulfide bond formation rates yields runaway oxidative stress”, BMC biology, (2012)
  • Liu, Z.; Tyo, K. E. J.; Petranovic, D.; Nielsen, J.; Hou, J., “Metabolic engineering of recombinant protein secretion by Saccharomyces cerevisiae”, FEMS Yeast Research, (2012)
  • J. Hou, K. Tyo, Z. Liu, D. Petranovic and J. Nielsen, “Engineering of vesicle trafficking improves heterologous protein secretion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae”, Metabolic Engineering, (2012)
  • C. D. Smolke and K. E. J. Tyo, “Synthetic biology: Emerging methodologies to catalyze the metabolic engineering design cycle”, Metabolic Engineering, (2012)