Imperial College London

Professor Karen Polizzi

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering

Professor of Biotechnology



+44 (0)20 7594 2851k.polizzi




411ACE ExtensionSouth Kensington Campus





Biopharmaceutical Processing

Biopharmaceuticals, or protein therapeutics, are the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry.  Our work in biopharmaceutical processing aims to increase the expression level of heterologous proteins in yeast and mammalian cells.  

Metabolic Markers of High Productivity Cells

This project aims to develop FRET-based sensors for important primary metabolites that correlate well with the level of protein production in cell lines.  These can then be used as a surrogate assays in the high throughput screening of cell for enhanced productivity.

Biosensors of Cell Stress

High levels of protein overexpression can cause cell stress from amino acid starvation, the accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins, and various other  mechanisms.  We are developing biosensors of these stress response pathways and developing synthetic genetic circuits aimed at overcoming cell stress.

Cellular Cooperativity

We are creating synthetic organisms that work together to accomplish goals in biopharmaceutical processing, such as providing nutrients on-demand to growing cultures.

Neurodegeneration and Ageing

Protein secretion, trafficking, and misfolding are also involved in neurodegeneration from diseases such as Alzheimer''s and Parkinson''s and from ageing in general.

Unvraveling the role of the ER stress response in neurodegeneration

With Dr Cleo Kontoravdi (Chemical Engineering), we are trying to understand what role endoplasmic reticulum stress plays in neuronal cell loss in Alzheimer''s disease. 

Tools for Synthetic Biology

We are also involved in ongoing work to add to the tools available for synthetic biology in multiple projects.  This work is in collaboration with Dr Mauricio Barahona (Bioengineering), Dr Guy-Bart Stan, and researchers at Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, and UCL.