I recently wrote an article about human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells over at GenoFAB, delving into their origins, characteristics, applications, and relation to other cell lines. After working with them for several years during my PhD in mammalian synthetic biology at ETH Zurich, I developed a special relationship with this cell line. As they are super easy to transfect and culture, HEK293 cells are a workhorse for synthetic biology but, as I describe in the article, they can also be used for recombinant protein production or viral particle production. I still thank HEK cells for allowing me to develop purity-enhancing gene switches, coffee-controlled diabetes therapies or designer exosomes for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. And if you’re working or plan to work with HEK293 or any of its derived cell lines, be sure to check out the article!