Dr. Boeke is known for his foundational work on mechanistic and genomic aspects of retrotransposition. His lab develops new technologies in genetics, genomics and synthetic biology. He elucidated a major form of mobile DNA, based on reverse transcription of RNA. He coined the term “retrotransposition” to describe this process, common to virtually all eukaryotic genomes and now studied by a worldwide scientific community. His “systems-level” studies helped elucidate intricate molecular mechanisms involved in retrotransposition in yeasts, mice and humans.
In the area of Synthetic Biology, Jef Boeke is using yeast as a platform for exploring the construction of fully synthetic chromosomes for practical and theoretical studies. He leads an international team to synthesize an engineered version of the yeast genome, Sc2.0, the first synthetic eukaryotic genome, and a consortium to explore the design and synthesis of even larger genomes. In 2018, he launched the “dark matter project” designed to better understand the “instruction manuals” that specify how human genes are expressed, using big DNA technology. He founded and directs the Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Health.