Innovating research, policy and education in synthetic and systems biology

News, Events and Vacancies

Keep abreast of what we are up to here and follow us on Twitter @SynthSysEd. We are always keen to hear from researchers at any stage of their career interested in working with us.

SynthSys Open Centre Meeting - 19 March 2015

Talks by:

Pablo Schyfter (Lecturer, School of Social and Political Science)
‘Gender and the engineering of biology’
and
Dominic Campopiano (Reader, School of Chemistry)
Update on BioCatalysis Centre

When: 9.30am - 10.30am
Where: C.H Waddington 1.08/1.09

SynthSys PI wins Synbio Leader Fellowship

Dr Jon Marles-Wright, Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences and member of SynthSys, has won a prestigious Synthetic Biology LEAP Fellowship for 2015.

The Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (SynBio LEAP) awards fellowships to an outstanding group of next generation leaders selected for their vision and aspiration for shaping biotechnology for the public good. The Fellowship will begin on February 1st in Washington DC with a set of landscaping meetings exploring the social, economic, technical, and political state of the field.

Medical advances accelerated by investment in synthetic biology at Edinburgh

Advances in drug discovery and healthcare will be accelerated by a multimillion pound investment in synthetic biology research centre at the University of Edinburgh over the next five years.

Synthetic biology seeks to redesign biological systems so that they can better perform new functions and to model and construct biological ‘parts’ and processes that do not exist in Nature. The new funding will explore applications of synthetic biology to both understand fundamental mechanisms of health and disease and also to pioneer new tools to ultimately improve human health. For example, Edinburgh scientists will explore how to programme stem cells for use as personalized medicines, create tests that are better at testing the safety of new medicines, and build tools to help identify new types drugs to treat some devastating diseases.

Genetic safety switches for synthetic biology

Dr Patrick Cai of SynthSys and his collaborators have devised a method for containing synthetic biology products to help ensure that they work only as intended. They developed a set of genetic switches that can be built into engineered organisms, to control the function of genes they need to survive.

First ever biological amplifier

SynthSys PI,  Dr Baojun Wang, is amongst the team of scientists who have made an amplifier to boost biological signals, using DNA and harmless E. coli bacteria.

Baojun says “One potential use of this technology would be to deploy microscopic sensors equipped with our bio-amplifier component into a water network. Swarms of the sensors could then detect harmful or dangerous toxins that might be hazardous to our health. The bio-amplifiers in the sensors enable us to detect even minute amounts of dangerous toxins, which would be of huge benefit to water quality controllers.”

SynthSys researchers develop PaperClip: a new DNA assembly method

Congratulations to Maryia Trubitsyna, Gracjan Michlewski, Yizhi Cai, Alistair Elfick and Chris French whose paper has been newly published in Nucleic Acids Research.

'PaperClip: rapid multi-part DNA assembly from existing libraries' available below.

Link: 

'Transcription factor binding predicts histone modifications in human cell lines'

Congratulations to SynthSys PI, Guido Sanguinetti, co-author on newly published paper in PNAS

Significance:"The regulation of gene expression is fundamental to biology and is classically predicated on binding of transcription fac-tor proteins to DNA. This view is challenged by large-scale studies correlating gene expression with posttranslational modifications of the histone proteins with which DNA is complexed in cells. Here, we show through a large-scale com-putational study that histone modifications can be predicted with remarkable accuracy from transcription factor-binding profiles, recapitulating known interactions between transcrip-tion factors and chromatin-modifying enzymes. Our results demonstrate that associations between gene expression and histone modifications do not necessarily imply a direct regu-latory role for these modifications, but can be explained equally well as an indirect effect of interactions between transcription factors and chromatin-modifying enzymes"
Link: 

Neonatal sepsis studies published in Nature Communications

Babies suffering from bacterial infections like sepsis could benefit from better treatment, thanks to a ground-breaking study.

SynthSys PI, Professor Peter Ghazal, is amongst the Edinburgh team who have identified a signal consisting of 52 molecular characters - like a biological tweet - that is specific to bacterial infection.

The findings could help develop a test for bacterial infection in newborns, using a single drop of blood.

Using blood samples from newborn babies in Edinburgh, the study investigated thousands of signals written in biological code known as messenger RNAs.Through meticulous code-breaking the scientists were able to decipher with close to 100 per cent accuracy the signals generated by an infant’s genome that specifically tell if they are suffering from sepsis.

Professor Ghazal explains the research

Nature Communications Paper

BGI announces flagship project with Edinburgh Genome Foundry

BGI announces flagship project with Edinburgh Genome Foundry to synthesize the largest synthetic eukaryotic chromosome in the UK.

BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics research centers, and the University of Edinburgh, UK have signed a collaboration agreement to pursue an ambitious synthetic biology “construction” project worth up to £1Million. The two institutes will team up to synthesize synthetic yeast chromosome VII in the Edinburgh Genome Foundry, recently funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and co-directed by Prof. Susan Rosser and Dr. Patrick Yizhi Cai.