Innovating research, policy and education in synthetic and systems biology


YeastFab offers useful tools for industrial biotech

Dr Patrick Cai, SynthSys Principal Investigator and co-director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry, along with collaborators from Tsinghua University have published their first paper on construction of YeastFab – a library of well characterized yeast genetic parts that will serve to expedite metabolic engineering of this industrial workhorse.

SynthSys recognised at Sustainability Awards

SynthSys was presented with a Silver Lab Award for the second year in a row at this year’s Ceremony.

More than 200 staff and students gathered at the Playfair Library Hall to celebrate the achievements of over 40 teams at the fifth annual Edinburgh Sustainability Awards.

F1000 Recognizes Contribution of a SynthSys PI

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Goryachev who has been awarded “Faculty Member of the Year 2014” for Microbiology Faculty.

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.


'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"