Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering




+44 (0)20 7594 1824y.elani Website




207HMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus





For group website, please visit:

Dr Yuval Elani is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Lecturer (Asst. Professor) at Imperial Chemical Engineering, where he leads the Artificial Cell Engineering group. He previously held EPSRC and Imperial College Research Fellowships at Imperial Chemistry. Yuval is an expert in synthetic biology, membrane biophysics, opto- / microfluidics, and molecular bioengineering.

Since completing his PhD in 2015 Yuval has secured > £3.6M as PI to conduct both blue-skies and applied research and has set up multiple collaborations with clinicians and industry (including AstraZeneca, Syngenta and GSK Vaccines). He has won multiple prizes and medals, including the Roscoe Medal (Parliamentary & Scientific Committee), Rita and John Cornforth Medal (RSC), and the President’s Medal for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Yuval’s research is focussed on answering the following questions: Can we construct artificial cells – entities that mimic the architectures, processes, and behaviours of biological cells - from scratch? Can we engineer these to manufacture chemicals, generate their own energy, make decisions, communicate with their neighbours, and swim up concentration gradients?  And can artificial cells be interfaced  with living biological systems – organelles, cells, and tissues – to yield hybrid ‘cellular bionic’ systems composed of living and synthetic components?

By blurring the boundaries between living and non-living matter, Yuval’s group use artificial cells (i) as models to shed light on universal biological phenomena in simplified and highly controlled settings and (ii) as micromachines that perform bespoke and biotechnologically useful functions in a suite of industrial and clinical applications.

Prior to joining Imperial, Yuval was at Cambridge University where he studied Natural Sciences.  Yuval was recently honoured by the World Economic Forum, who selected him to be part of their Young Scientist Community (50 under 40 worldwide), and he sits on the EPSRC Early Career Forum for Engineering.



2021 Royal Society of Chemistry Felix Franks Medal for Biotechnology
2021 BBSRC/NSF Lead Agency Grant w. Caltech (PI)
2020 EPSRC New Horizons Grant (PI)
2020 Appointed to Faculty of ChemEng at Imperial
2020 UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship
2019 President Medal, Outstanding Early Career Researcher
2019 Imperial College Research Fellowship
2018 Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy 
2017 Royal Society of Chemistry Rita & John Cornforth Medal 
2017 World Economic Forum, '50 under 40' 
2016 EPSRC Fellowship 
2015 EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship 
2015 Roscoe Medal, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee 
2011 Lord Porter Prize 


Fusing living and non-living matter  to construct cellular bionic hybrid cellsScientific Reports , IFL Science

Sculpting 2D and 3D membrane networks using Optical Tweezers. Nature Communications, 

Light-activated hierarchical vesicle reactors.  Nature Communications, Press Release 

Spatially segregated vesicle-based artificial cells as chemical microreactors. Nature Communications 

Microfluidic construction of model membranes.  Chemical Communications, Lab on a Chip


Postdoc FUNDING 

We are currently recruiting for a postdoc to start in Q1 or Q2 OF 2022. This is part of an Imperial/Caltech international collaboration to build synthetic organelles/nuclei, to use these to understand the rules of cellular architecture and to exploit them as functional components within artificial cells. If you are interested in joining team as a postdoc please email your CV to Yuval. 


We currently have two fully-funded PhD studentships available for an October 2022 start: These are open to both home and international students. 

These studentships involve the development of new technologies to generate vesicle-based synthetic cells, and to engineer them to possess the behaviours that are the hallmarks of life: motility, energy generation, communication, replication, decision making, and self-repair. This will involve designing and working with novel bio-membranes, cell-free protein expression systems, gene circuits, as well as microfluidic platforms. These will be multi-disciplinary projects which, depending on the applicant’s background and research interests, will span across one or more of the research areas of molecular bioengineering, chemical biology, synthetic biology, soft matter, membrane biophysics, and microfluidics. If you are interested in applying, and if you would like to hear more about these projects, please send your CV to Yuval.


We are always on the lookout for excellent MRes, PhDs, PDRAs, and fellows to join the group. If you are interested, please get in touch directly at 

Prospective PhD students should be aware of the President's PhD Scholarship SchemeSchrödinger Scholarship SchemeChina Scholarship Council, and Imperial Marshall Scholarship. We have accepted MRes students from research programmes in Chemical Biology, Plant Chemical Biology, and Nanomaterials in the past, but those on other courses who would like to work with us are welcome to get in touch. 

We would also welcome interest to join the group as a postdoc fellow (e.g. on Marie Curie,  EPSRC and BBSRC schemes)



Monck C, Elani Y, Ceroni F, 2022, Cell-free protein synthesis: biomedical applications and future perspectives, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, Vol:177, ISSN:0263-8762, Pages:653-658

Allen ME, Albon J, Elani Y, 2021, Layer-by-layer assembly of multi-layered droplet interface bilayers (multi-DIBs), Chemical Communications, Vol:58, ISSN:1359-7345, Pages:60-63

Pazos MD, Hu Y, Elani Y, et al., 2021, Tattoo inks for optical biosensing in interstitial fluid, Advanced Healthcare Materials, Vol:10, ISSN:2192-2640, Pages:1-22

Lucey M, Ashik T, Marzook A, et al., 2021, Acylation of the incretin peptide exendin-4 directly impacts GLP-1 receptor signalling and trafficking, Molecular Pharmacology, Vol:100, ISSN:0026-895X, Pages:319-334

Ip T, Li Q, Brooks N, et al., 2021, Manufacture of multilayered artificial cell membranes through sequential bilayer deposition on emulsion templates., Chembiochem: a European Journal of Chemical Biology, Vol:22, ISSN:1439-4227, Pages:2275-2281

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