Dr Francesca Ceroni is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses now on bacterial and mammalian synthetic biology to design and develop optimised genetic constructs and control systems for gene expression to be adopted in downstream biomedical applications and bioproduction applications.
Our work is focused on the following research areas:
1) Host-aware cell engineering. We work in bacteria and mammalian cells to understand how genetic constructs interact with host cells so as to better understand resource competition and burden. We use our findings to design mitigation strategies to ease burden and improve cell and construct performance.
2) AI-guided vector design. We collaborate with other universities and industrial partners to develop novel plasmid vectors with improved performance. We do this by library screening, cell line development and AI-based prediction.
3) Engineered synthetic cells. Working with Yuval Elani in our Department, we aim at engineering synthetic cells with genetic devices for the sensing of external stimuli and triggered responses toward therapeutic applications.
4) Control of gene expression in mammalian cells. Through the design of novel approaches and genetic tools we aim at regulating gene expression and cellular behaviour in mammalian cells. We do this by transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational control.
5) Control of gene expression in bacterial cells. By designing bacterial controllers and regulators, we aim at a context-aware regulation of bacterial gene expression for the programmable control of expression in response to a plethora of external stimuli. This is to be applied to therapy, agriculture and bioprocessing.
Francesca`s research publications can be found at Google Scholar
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Dr Francesca Ceroni graduated in Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies from the University of Bologna and obtained a PhD in Bioengineering from the same university. Her thesis examined the development of synthetic genetic devices in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells for the control of cell functions. In particular, she was interested in deepening the feasibility of a bottom-up approach in the design of synthetic circuits.
In 2010, she was Visiting Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Prof. Pam Silver, in the Department of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School of Boston, USA. She worked together with Dr. Karmella Haynes to build a synthetic device for real-time detection of microRNAs in cancer cells at a single cell level.
In January 2013 Francesca joined Imperial College London as Research Associate in Synthetic Biology in the groups of Dr. Tom Ellis and Dr. Guy-Bart Stan. Her work aimed at examining the causes of physiological burden in Escherichia coli when transformed with foreign genetic devices in order to identify design rules for future synthetic systems.
In 2016 Francesca was awarded the Junior Research Fellowship of Imperial College London to deepen her interests in mammalian cell physiology for synthetic biology applications.
In October 2018 she was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Chemical engineering and since September 2022 she is Senior Lecturer.
et al., 2023, Resource-aware construct design in mammalian cells, Nature Communications, Vol:14
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
Grob A, Di Blasi R, Ceroni F, 2021, Experimental tools to reduce the burden of bacterial synthetic biology, Current Opinion in Systems Biology, Vol:28, ISSN:2452-3100
et al., 2021, Genetic toolkits to design and build mammalian synthetic systems, Trends in Biotechnology, Vol:39, ISSN:0167-7799, Pages:1004-1018