medical biosciences student at workThe Accelerating Biosciences theme aims to bring together expertise from across College and external stakeholders to integrate automation, AI, biotechnology and molecular tools and technologies to systematically address fundamental questions in biology. Technological advances will both lead new biological discovery, rapidly identifying targets for biological intervention, as well as translating discovery into applied biotechnology applications (in drug discovery, food security, industrial biotechnology etc). We have identified four broad areas that underpin the Accelerating Biosciences theme:

Biological discovery – New biological discovery is central to the creation of new exploitable opportunities. New knowledge provides the basis for innovation and market advantage in industrial settings and therefore provides new opportunities for academic led projects to create new interfaces with partners. The development of ground-breaking tools and technologies can also provide the basis for the discovery of new knowledge, thus creating synergy between key areas of development.

Tools and technologies – New technologies are required with respect to making, measuring, modelling and manipulating molecular interactions in biological systems. For example, automation and digital approaches to making new molecules will enable reagents to be automatically generated and optimised, such that biological assays could be automatically undertaken and optimised under the supervision of AI. Development of imaging and analytical platforms for measuring concentrations of biomolecules, drugs and agrichemicals at site of action and for tracking molecules in cells and tissues. Technologies that bring together novel single-cell technologies, microfluidics/organ-on-chip, single-molecule biosensors for high selectivity and sensitivity of biomarkers in complex biofluids.

Data sciences (AI and ML) – The creation of high throughput omics-based approaches to biology has in many areas led to life sciences becoming a data led discipline. The development of new data-intensive approaches will further enhance the importance and opportunities that will arise from data-led approaches. The creation of high density complex data sets will require innovative ML approaches to both interpret and learn from these data streams. There are also significant opportunities to develop intelligent approaches with machine-led experimental design to create innovative approaches for navigating biological design landscapes in the engineering of new biological systems.

Applied Biotechnology – Biological systems are the basis for the development of many products from medicines to food. The increasing capabilities in biological systems engineering is greatly enhancing the number of areas that can be addressed by bio-based solutions. The ability to both interrogate, intervene and engineer biological systems is creating ever more advanced opportunities for innovative advances and the development of sustainable approaches to global challenges.

Theme leads

Get in touch with the theme members by emailing

Theme leads

  • Geoff Baldwin

    Geoff Baldwin

    Personal details

    Geoff Baldwin Professor of Synthetic and Molecular Biology


    Geoff is Professor of Synthetic and Molecular Biology in the Department of Life Sciences. His research group focuses on the development of synthetic biology approaches to facilitate the engineering of new biological systems for real-world applications.

  • Ramon Vilar

    Ramon Vilar

    Personal details

    Ramon Vilar Professor of Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry


    Ramón Vilar is Professor of Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry and is currently Director of Research in the Department of Chemistry.

Coordinating research activities

Internal funding opportunities

 Accelerating Bioscience Theme – Call for Large Grants Expressions of Interest – Round 2

We are inviting 2-page Expressions of Interest for internal funding that can be used to support the writing and submission of large-scale and multidisciplinary grant proposals. Please see below the document for the call guidance and template proposal.

Funding available: Up to £6,000 per proposal is available to support the salary costs for grant writing or undertaking work essential for the preparation of the full proposal.  

Deadline: All applications should be sent to Sophie Armstrong-Brown by Friday 21st May 2021 5pm.

 Any questions, please contact the Faculty Theme Champions, Ramon Vilar and Geoff Baldwin.

Find out more about guidance and deadlines for this call (only FoNS staff)