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Mike Simpson

Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, ORNL, and Assistant Director of Bredesen Center


Dr. Michael L. Simpson received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1991. He started his research life as an Electrical Engineer, but followed the call of interdisciplinary research to the boundaries between life, computational, and physical sciences. His research has made important contributions to the use of nanotechnology to enable the transfer of information across the biological-synthetic device boundary and the development of a fundamental understanding of Noise Biology. Simpson has published more than 150 refereed journal papers that have been cited more than 6,000 times, has been awarded 33 patents, and has presented numerous invited talks. His work has been internationally recognized as he is a Fellow of AAAS, the IEEE, and the AIMBE, a Battelle Memorial Institute Distinguished Inventor, and was named the UT-Battelle Distinguished Scientist of the year for 2009. He won the Kermit Fischer Environmental Award and was a finalist for a Discover Magazine Technology Innovation award in 1998, and he serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Nanomedicine and Biotherapeutic Discovery and the International Journal of Natural Computing Research. Currently Simpson is a Distinguished R&D Staff Member and the Group Leader of the Nanofabrication Research Laboratory in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL, a Professor in the Departments of Material Science and Engineering and Energy Science and Engineering, and the Assistant Director of the Bredesen Center.


Read more about Prof. Simpson and his work:

Put a biologist, a physical scientist, and an electrical engineer in the same room, and you have a recipe for an interesting collaboration in nanobioscience

The world's a stage, and nature is a splendid stage manager. Understanding how nature works and imitating nature at work are among the goals of nanobiotechnology

As ORNL researchers seek answers to life sciences' persistent questions, some are struck by how systems biology applies to life on a variety of scales


See Dr. Simpson's Google Scholar Profile for an up-to-date publication list and citation metrics.

Teng, M.W., C. Bolovan-Fritts, R. D. Dar, A. Womack, M. L. Simpson, T. Shenk, L. S. Weinberger (2012), “An Endogenous Accelerator for Viral Gene Expression Confers a Fitness Advantage,” Cell 151(7), Dec. 21, 2012, 1569-1580.

Dar, R. D., B. S. Razooky, A. Singh, T. V. Trimeloni, J. M. McCollum, C. D. Cox, M. L. Simpson, L. S. Weinberger (2012) “Transcriptional burst frequency and burst size are equally modulated across the human genome.” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109(43), Oct.2012, 17454-17459.

Karig, D. K., S. Iyer, M. L. Simpson, and M. J. Doktycz (2012), “Expression optimization and synthetic gene networks in cell-free systems,” Nuc.. Acids Res., 40(8), 3763-3774.

Fuentes-Cabrera, M., B. H. Rhodes, M. I. Baskes, H. Terrones, J. D. Fowlkes, M. L. Simpson, and Philip D. Rack (2011), “Controlling the Velocity of Jumping Nanodroplets Via Their Initial Shape and Temperature,” ACS Nano, 5(9), 7130-7136.

Simpson, M. L., and P. T. Cummings (2011), “Fluctuations and Correlations in Physical and Biological Nanosystems: The Tale Is in the Tails,” ACS Nano, 5(4), 2425–2432.

Dar, R. D., D. K. Karig, J. F. Cooke, C. D. Cox, and M. L. Simpson (2010), “Distribution and regulation of stochasticity and plasticity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae,” Chaos 20, 037106-1—8.

Cox, C. D., J. M. McCollum, M. S. Allen, R. D. Dar, and M. L. Simpson (2008) “Using noise to probe and characterize gene circuits,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci105(31), 10809-10814.

Weinberger, L. S., R. D. Dar, M. L. Simpson (2008) “Transient-mediated fate determination in a transcriptional circuit of HIV” Nature Genetics40(4), 466-470.

Doktycz, M. J. and M. L. Simpson, "Nano-enabled synthetic biology," Mol Syst Biol, vol. 3, 2007.

Austin, D. W., M. S. Allen, J. M. McCollum, R. D. Dar, J. R. Wilgus, G. S. Sayler, N. F. Samatova, C. D. Cox, & M. L. Simpson, “Gene Network Shaping of Inherent Noise Spectra”, Nature 439, Feb. 2, 2006,  608-611.

Simpson, M. L., C. D. Cox, G. D. Peterson, and G. S. Sayler. “Engineering in the Biological Substrate: Information Processing in Genetic Circuits.” Proc. IEEE. Vol. 92(5), May 2004, 848-863.

Simpson, M. L., C. D. Cox, G. S. Sayler. “Frequency Domain Analysis of Noise in Autoregulated Gene Circuits”. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 100, April 15, 2003, 4551-4556.

Simpson, M. L., G. S. Sayler, J. T. Fleming, and B. A. Applegate. “Whole-cell biocomputing:  engineering the information processing functionality of cells”. Trends Biotech., 19(8), August 2001, 317-323.

Simpson, Michael L., Gary S. Sayler, Steven Ripp, David E. Nivens, Bruce M. Applegate, Michael J. Paulus, and Gerald E. Jellison Jr. "Bioluminescent-Bioreporter Integrated Circuits Form Novel Whole-Cell Biosensors". Trends Biotech.16, August 1998, 332-338.

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