Author Archive for synbiochem

Rapid prototyping of microbial production strains for the biomanufacture of potential materials monomers

SYNBIOCHEM’s latest paper highlights the power of its D/B/T/L pipeline for bio-based production of industrial chemicals using synthetic biology. Here we benchmarked the capabilities of our biomanufacturing pipeline to enable rapid prototyping of microbial cell factories for the production of chemically diverse industrially relevant materials building blocks.

Over 85 days the pipeline produced 17 potential materials monomers and key intermediates, combining 160 genetic parts into 115 unique biosynthetic pathways. The scale up potential was explored with demonstration of gram-scale production of mandelic and hydroxymandelic acid. Read more here.

Outstanding SYNBIOCHEM Scientists elected as Fellows of the Royal Society

Congratulations to SYNBIOCHEM Directors Prof Nigel Scrutton and Prof Nicholas Turner, who have both been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society.  The highly prestigious award is thanks to their pioneering contributions to scientific discovery in the field of industrial biotechnology.

“I am very honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. I am delighted that my work and that of my group past and present has been recognised by the Royal Society in this way. Science is a team effort – this recognition is also for the group and I thank them.” – Professor Nigel Scrutton, Director of the UK Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity”.

Read more about the awards here, and read the newly uploaded Fellows’ profiles here:

University of Manchester researchers collaborate with Zymergen at leading US science conference

Philip Shapira is co-organising a session at the prestigious 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle this week (Feb 2020) entitled “The Biological Engineering Revolution: Strategies for Sustainable Scale-up”.

The symposium is exploring the development and scale-up of these new biological engineering approaches, as well as the application of these methods for creating chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and other commodities. It is also looking at strategies to embed responsible, sustainable, and inclusive innovation in product design and deployment.

The session will share leading-edge industry, academic and laboratory perspectives on the opportunities and challenges presented by biological engineering, and speakers will discuss the growing roles of machine learning and automation in accelerating the design of new biomolecules for industry. During the session a paper led by Nicholas Matthews, a doctoral researcher at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, is being presented.

PhD Projects now available: BioDesign Engineering CDT

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Eleven fully funded projects are now available for 2020 start with the BioDesign Engineering CDT.

3 exciting projects will be hosted by the University of Manchester. 1) Genome scrambling and biosensor technologies for production of high value chemicals in synthetic yeast (Chem@Sc2.0). 2) Design, engineering, and analysis of viability, growth and bioproduction impact of synthetic ribosomal RNAs in yeast. 3) Biodesign and engineering of functionalised spider silk variants.

The 1+3 programme begins with a MRes at Imperial College London with the research project element hosted by your PhD institution. Find out more here

Dual award PhD in Synthetic and Systems Biology

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The University of Manchester and China’s Tsinghua University have come together to offer a unique dual degree PhD programme in Synthetic and Systems Biology, with successful applicants spending four life-changing years across Manchester and Beijing.
An opportunity to play a key role in developing sustainable, bio-economy solutions to address current and future global challenges – all while broadening your horizons with an incredible opportunity to study abroad.

Find out more here:

iGEM team make the news

Following the success of our previous iGEM teams it is great to be able to report a Gold Medal award for our 2019 team!

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This years’ team “Cutiful” modified E. coli bacteria to produce secretions that can colour, repair, straighten and fragrance hair.

In addition to their visit to the jamboree in Boston the team also hit the BBC news!

The team continued the success of Manchester’s iGEM teams – read more here

RRI team update

RRI Post Doctoral Researchers gain University Presidential Fellowships.

Dr Barbara Ribeiro

Dr Robert Meckin took up his fellowship in the School of Social Sciences in September to work on two research themes concerned with research methodology and technology.

The SYNBIOCHEM Centre welcomes 2 new members of the RRI team. Dr Andrew Watkins Chris Mellingwood to continue his work on automation in synthetic biology.

Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub

The University of Manchester has been awarded £10 million from UKRI (EPSRC/BBSRC) for a UK-wide biomanufacturing research hub that could pave the way for easier and quicker ways to make new medicines and sustainable energy solutions.
The Future BRH  led by Professor Nigel, based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), will work in partnership with spokes at leading institutions and with industry to develop new Biotechnologies to speed up bio-based manufacturing in key sectors – pharmaceuticals, chemicals, engineering materials and biofuels. For more information see the website.

Metabolic Perceptrons for Neural Computing in Biological Systems

Tremendous progress has recently been made in machine learning including deep learning such that machine learning is now used in many tasks that affect our daily life and is currently making strives regarding our health. Yet, little has been done to interface machine learning with biological systems at the molecular level, this is noteworthy considering that deep learning methods are inspired by the neural network of our brain. Using artificial neural network for diagnosis has been undertaken for many diseases, however, biomarker concentrations are needed to both train the network and use it for diagnosis. Taking raw clinical samples as network input and producing an output that can directly be measured is required to construct the network in a biological system. A research team led by Prof. Faulon (SYNBIOCHEM center) has just taken a first step in this direction by engineering a simple neural network in an E. coli cell-free extract1. The network classifies samples having different metabolic compositions, is trained in silico and actuated in a cell extract through the modulation of enzyme concentrations. In a second study2, Faulon’s team partnered with J. Bonnet’s group at INSERM (France) and performed validation tests on human urine for metabolites detection. Read more


Building a multibillion-dollarsynthetic biology industry. Engineering the future with Synthetic Biology. Currently a multi-million dollar industry set to be come a multi-billion dollar industry. The leading synthetic biology conference of 2019 is taking place in London, UK. A diverse panel of speakers from across the world will share their opinions, insights and expertise

Register here: