Imperial College London

Professor Oscar Ces

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

Professor of Chemical Biology



+44 (0)20 7594 3754o.ces




540 (Main Chemistry Building)ChemistrySouth Kensington Campus





Prof. Oscar Ces (OC), a Professor in Chemistry at Imperial College London is a leading specialist in soft condensed matter, chemical biology, microfluidics, artificial cells, single cell analysis and lipid membrane mechanics. Since 2006 he has raised >£30M in research funding, published nearly 100 papers, given >40 invited lectures and graduated 18 PhD students.He has active research programmes with industry including collaborations with AstraZeneca plc, GSK plc, P&G plc and Syngenta plc.

His current roles include: 



My group is always on the lookout for talented early career researchers at PhD, PDRA and Fellowships levels. If you would like to learn more about direct funding opportunities available in the group or discuss opportunities for applying for funding for PhD (e.g Imperial Colllege PhD Scholarship Scheme) and fellowship positions please contact Dr Oscar Ces at

The heart of his group, the Membrane Biophysics Platform ( is always on the lookout for new and exciting talent to join our lab which brings together over 30 researchers. We currently have numerous PhD positions available. These can be found at:

In addition to these we will welcome general enquiries and where possible are interested in supporting synergistic fellowship applications.

Research in the group focusses on a number of key areas:

(i)              The construction of artificial cells using microfluidic technologies (bottom-up synthetic biology). Using these platforms we are manufacturing artificial cells capable of emulating the complexities and multi-functionalities of natural cells including the ability to compartmentalize processes in different spatial localities and for these processes to interact with one another. Other features we are engineering into these systems include onboard chemical synthesis, environmental sensing, information storage and smart delivery. Most recently he has embarked on a £5.4M EPSRC Frontiers in Engineering grant aimed at scaling up these cutting edge synthetic biology approaches.

(ii)             Microfluidic single cell analysis and manipulation. We have developed the microfluidic antibody capture chip (MAC Chip), a generic assembly capable of undertaking the analysis of protein copy number from single cells. In addition we have developed droplet based technologies for undertaking biopsies from single cells. Our £4.6M EPSRC Proxomics grant ( is spearheading the MAC platform along with its translation into clinical contexts.

(iii)            Optonanofluidics. We have pioneered the development of microfluidic technologies for manufacturing micron sized ultra-low tension droplets. Using optical traps we can control the shape of these micron-sized emulsion droplets and create droplet networks connected by stable threads of oil a thousand times thinner than a human hair. We are using these droplets to create complex 3-D shapes and chemical reactions on the attolitre scale. Such microparticles have potential applications in medical devices, drug delivery, micromechanical systems, photonic materials and ion sources.

(iv)            Molecular Membrane Engineering. Fabrication of complex 2-D and 3-D lipid based assemblies including vesicles, bulk lipid mesophases (e.g. bicontinuous cubic phases), multisomes and droplet interface bilayers. Within these structures we aim to control parameters such as curvature, asymmetry, patterning, compartmentalization and content-all across multiple length scales. The £5M CAPITALS Programme he founded aims to push the boundaries and applications of Molecular Membrane Engineering (

(v)             Protein-membrane and drug-membrane interactions. We study the impact of interactions with cell and model membranes to predict the behaviour of drug molecules and proteins in-vivo. This includes the recent discovery of membrane mediated protein-protein communication.

(vi)            Lipid membrane mechanics. Using a variety of techniques we study how the mechanical properties of membranes such as rigidity and spontaneous curvature vary with factors such as lipid composition, asymmetry, protein content, temperature, hydrostatic pressure





Elani Y, Law R, Ces O, Vesicle-based artificial cells: recent developments and prospects for drug delivery, Therapeutic Delivery, ISSN:2041-6008

Armstrong A, Ces O, Compte RV, 2017, All aboard for chemistry, Chemistry & Industry, Vol:81, ISSN:0009-3068, Pages:14-15

Barlow NE, Smpokou E, Friddin MS, et al., 2017, Engineering plant membranes using droplet interface bilayers, Biomicrofluidics, Vol:11, ISSN:1932-1058


Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., Optical tweezers to assemble 2D and 3D droplet interface bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets, EMBL Microfluidics

Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., The optical assembly of bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets for synthetic biology, Systems and Synthetic Biology

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