Imperial College London

Dr Tom Ellis

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Bioengineering

Reader in Synthetic Genome Engineering



+44 (0)20 7594 7615t.ellis Website CV




704Bessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Dr Tom Ellis is a Reader leading research in synthetic biology and synthetic genome engineering in the Department of Bioengineering. He has track record in synthetic biology, being author of over 25 publications in synthetic biology including work in Nature Methods, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS and Nature Reviews. He is leader of the UK-funded project to build a synthetic yeast chromosome for the international synthetic yeast project (Sc2.0). He co-leads the teaching of Imperial’s synthetic biology undergraduate module and has won multiple awards for teaching and for supervision of iGEM teams. His research focuses on developing the foundational tools for accelerating, automating and scaling design-led synthetic biology, focusing on research projects in yeast (S. cerevisiae) and E. coli model organisms, as well as industrially relevant microbes such as Acetobacter, Geobacillus and Bacillus.

For more information about Dr Ellis and his lab, please visit the Tom Ellis Lab Webpage

Tom’s research publications can be found at Google Scholar


Dr Ellis obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Michael J. Waring in 2004, examining drugs that bind directly to the promoter elements of cancer genes. Dr Ellis followed-up his PhD research at a the biotech company Spirogen where he set-up a biological screening unit and developed high-throughput assays to characterise the interactions between drugs and oncogene promoters.

Dr Ellis returned to academic research in 2006 to spend two years investigating synthetic biology at Boston University, USA. Working in one of the founding groups of the field under the supervision of Jim Collins, Dr Ellis devised a synthesis-based library approach to engineering gene regulatory networks and was able to model and implement this method in nonlinear systems and with phenotypes relevant to biofuel and beer production.

In 2009 before joining Imperial College, Dr Ellis returned to the UK to research synthetic biology at the Institute of Biotechnology at University of Cambridge.


Research interests

Dr Ellis''s main research interests are: 

  • synthetic biology
  • genome engineering
  • the function of DNA sequence
  • programming biosynthesis of materials and therapeutics

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Gilbert C, Howarth M, Harwood CR, et al., 2017, Extracellular Self-Assembly of Functional and Tunable Protein Conjugates from Bacillus subtilis, Acs Synthetic Biology, Vol:6, ISSN:2161-5063, Pages:957-967

Florea M, Hagemann H, Santosa G, et al., 2016, Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:113, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:E3431-E3440

Casini A, Storch M, Baldwin GS, et al., 2015, Bricks and blueprints: methods and standards for DNA assembly, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Vol:16, ISSN:1471-0072, Pages:568-576

Ceroni F, Algar R, Stan G-B, et al., 2015, Quantifying cellular capacity identifies gene expression designs with reduced burden, Nature Methods, Vol:12, ISSN:1548-7091, Pages:415-+

Jovicevic D, Blount BA, Ellis T, 2014, Total synthesis of a eukaryotic chromosome: Redesigning and SCRaMbLE-ing yeast, Bioessays, Vol:36, ISSN:0265-9247, Pages:855-860

More Publications