John S. Girgis

Research Specialist & Technician



Hi friends! I science, I data, I tweet, and I love to eat, therefore I am. My name is John Girgis. I am Egyptian by birth, grew up in Dubai, immigrated to Canada with my family, and love to travel the world because it makes me feel like my tribe is the entirety of humanity. My favorite quote is “Become increasingly merged in the Universal life” by Bertrand Russell. It’s both a quote about how we’re part of grander narratives than our own lives, and yet it highlights that integrating into that narrative takes affirmative action. As such, my dream is for Synthetic Biology to become the default method for humans to interact with our natural world, and for me to help that happen with my own hands.

Research Interests

I like to describe myself as a data-driven, R-powered, bioinformatics- & molecular biology-trained geek. I love building automated and computerized techniques to solve research challenges and I am hugely interested in the potential for the intersection between genetic networks, directed evolution, and protein engineering in producing logic-capable biological computers and bio-factories. 

Selected Publications

  • “Learning-based interactive segmentation using the maximum mean cycle weight formalism,” Nilufar et al., SPIE Medical Imaging, Conference Paper, 2017;
  • “Regulation of Hspb7 by MEF2 and AP-1: implications for Hspb7 in muscle atrophy,” Wales et al., Journal of Cell Science, 2016;
  • “Genome-wide association between Six4, MyoD and the histone demethylase Utx during myogenesis,” Chakroun et al., FASEB Journal, 2015.


  • M.Sc. Biochemistry – The University of Ottawa – 2015-2018;
  • Hons. B.Sc. Biochemistry – The University of Ottawa – 2008-2013.

Professional Profile

I’ve held two main professional experiences: one as a Laboratory Technician studying mitochondrial dynamics effects on muscle regeneration, and one as a community ambassador for the iGEM Competition facilitating the inclusion of stakeholders in international discussions over the role and future of SynBio in our lives. In my free time, I’m very lucky to be able to say I’ve had an immensely rewarding oddball side-gig history. I’ve been a part-time teacher at all teaching levels from kindergarten to grade 12, I’ve helped manage an e-Sports team, I’ve scripted and shot documentaries, and recently have even had photography displayed in a gallery. This is all on top of my friends and I establishing and running a humble biohackerspace in our city, with a shared dream of commoditizing biochemical research and tools. Combined, I feel like my life and experiences are pointing me in the direction of building something with my skillset, and I hope I get to maintain an artistic flair in every direction I pursue.  

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Canadian Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature;
  • uOttawa Synthetic Biology Cooperative.


  • Graduate Studies Leadership Award, University of Ottawa – 2016;
  • Honorary Mention, African Continent, Ontario Model WHO – 2015;
  • iGEM Genetic Engineering Competition Bronze Medal – 2012.

KAUST Affiliations

  • Sustainable & Synthetic Biotechnology Group;
  • Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering.

Non-KAUST Affiliations

  • Biotown – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada;
  • After iGEM Policy Committee – Boston, MA, USA.

Research Interests Keywords

Synthetic Biology Sustainability Bio-Art Bio-Computation