PhD student working in the Bayer lab

The Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology was launched in 2007 with the aim of bringing together the extensive, world-leading systems and synthetic biology research from across the College in the Faculties of Natural Sciences, Medicine and Engineering.

Advances in the understanding of biomolecular processes frequently depend on collaborative efforts by biologists, chemists, engineers and physicists.

Research areas at the Institute include:

  • the development of synthetic biology devices (e.g. biosensors)
  • combating malaria
  • understanding the interactions between pathogens and host cells
  • treating inflammatory diseases

Study opportunities

The Department offers a Master's course and several research options to help you take your knowledge to the next level. If you are interested in Doctoral study, it’s important to gain support for your application from your potential supervisor before making a formal application to the College.

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Master's courses

MRes Course:


A number of principal areas of research are covered within the Institute. These divide into two categories: applied research, and research relating to methodology.

In relation to applied research, the principal areas of work are:

Each of these topics has a Research Leader, who is a well known scientist in the field with a strong international reputation, and fully equipped laboratories.

Research relating to methodology refers to the technology spine of the work of the Institute. Principal areas of research include:

There is also considerable research in the areas of biomathematics and ontologies.