Institute for Molecular Engineering
Savaș Tay is a systems biologist and bioengineer who works at the interface of biology, physics, and engineering. His goal is to understand how biological systems work from an engineer’s perspective and use this knowledge to manipulate cells and gene pathways to help cure diseases. His laboratory also develops high-throughput and high-content single-cell analysis devices by integrating microfluidics and optics. He also holds an appointment in the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology.
Tay’s work on NF-κB, a key transcription factor that regulates thousands of immune genes, was published in leading scientific journals, including Nature, Cell, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. He discovered that cells activate NF-κB in an all-or-none fashion, similar to a digital switch. Recently, he discovered that molecular noise improves cellular signal transmission by synergizing with transcriptional oscillations.
Before becoming interested in biology, Tay was an optical physicist. His achievements in optics include the development of the first updatable holographic three-dimensional display, infrared-sensitive holographic materials for bioimaging, tunable photonic crystal devices, and plasmonic thermal emitters for infrared imaging. He received his PhD from the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona and held a postdoctoral position in the Bioengineering Department at Stanford University. He was previously a faculty member at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).