Laboratory for Genome Engineering & Synthetic Biology

We develop and apply genome engineering and synthetic biology approaches and harness engineering and evolution principles to design and build genetic networks and thus engineer organisms with improved traits for key applications, including crop improvement, biomanufacturing, and diagnostics.

Our research interests are:

Bioengineering technologies will transform and reshape the future of medicine and agriculture and will revolutionize our ability to understand and engineer genomes. In our laboratory, we develop and apply genome engineering technologies to understand and evolve gene functions and to improve traits of value.  We develop technologies for engineering cells to biomanufacture high-value products, including key compounds and select chemicals and pharmaceuticals in different synthetic biologic chassis, including plants, bacteria, and yeast. We translate ideas into products and design and construct novel synthetic gene networks for the overproduction of critical biomolecules.






Lab Members



30 May, 2021

Vigilant: An Engineered VirD2-Cas9 Complex for Lateral Flow Assay-Based Detection of SARS-CoV2

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21 June, 2020

The test we need

Researchers at KAUST are developing a test that is rapid, accurate and easy to use in the field—can it help flatten future curves?

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05 April, 2020

Better plant edits by enhancing DNA repair

A protein hijacked from a bacterial pathogen helps to facilitate more precise genome editing in plants.

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Vigilant: An Engineered VirD2-Cas9 Complex for Lateral Flow Assay-Based Detection of Sars-Cov2

Vigilant is a programmable diagnostic platform which is simple, affordable and can be handled by non-experts. In principle, it can be repurposed to detect almost any nucleic acid of interest rendering it ideal for the identification ofviruses, bacteria, mutations, alleles, ...etc


Sci-Café: COVID-19 Part IV

featuring, panelists Charlotte Hauser, Stefan Arold and Magdy Mahfouz, with moderator Naadiya Carrim, Our KAUST panel of experts will share how they are tuning their work to contribute to a broad range of solutions to the challenges of COVID-19.


Method of inhibiting plant virus pathogen infections by crispr/cas9-mediated interference
Patent Year: 2016
Authors: Mahfouz, Magdy M., Ali, Zahir

Publication number: WO 2016/185411 Al

Patent Year: 2015
Authors: Mahfouz, Magdy M., Ali, Zahir

Publication number: WO 2015/18693 Al