Imperial College London

Professor Oscar Ces

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

Head of Department, August von Hofmann Chair of Chemistry



+44 (0)20 7594 3754o.ces Website




G04AMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus





Professor Oscar Ces is the Head of the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College (since 2019) and is the Hofmann Chair of Chemistry, a position that commemorates the memory of chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892).

The Hofmann Chair of Chemistry is awarded to chemists at Imperial who have made positive and significant contributions to the Department of Chemistry, and to the advancement of Chemistry in London and the UK.

He is a leading specialist in soft condensed matter, chemical biology, microfluidics, artificial cells, single cell analysis, smart delivery systems, high-throughput screens for drug efficacy and lipid membrane mechanics with active industry research programmes with AstraZeneca plc, GSK plc, P&G plc and Syngenta plc.

Professor Ces has been at Imperial for over 25-years; prior to and during his time as Head of Chemistry, he has played a pivotal role in establishing Imperial’s White City Campus.

Within the Department of Chemistry, Professor Ces has acted as Director of Development, Theme Leader for Chemical Biology & Healthcare and Co-Director of the Membrane Biophysics Platform. Alongside these roles he was previously Director of the Institute of Chemical Biology, the Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Chemical Biology, the longest running CDT in the UK that has been renewed three times, as well as the Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Doctoral Training in Cellular Bionics.

Through these roles as well as working with others in the Department, Professor Ces has co-developed and realised the vision for the Molecular Sciences Research Hub in White City and helped found the Agilent Measurement Suite, the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, the Deep Tech Network (in partnership with Upstream) and the Invention Rooms.

Most recently he co-founded fabriCELL, an Imperial College Network of Excellence in Synthetic Cell Science of which he is Co-Director and digiFAB, a new cross-faculty institute focusing on the development of Digital Chemistry which is part of the Academic Strategy


My group is always on the lookout for talented early career researchers at PhD, PDRA and Fellowships levels. If you would like to learn more about direct funding opportunities available in the group or discuss opportunities for applying for funding for PhD (e.g Imperial Colllege PhD Scholarship Scheme) and fellowship positions please contact Prof Oscar Ces at

The heart of his group, the Membrane Biophysics Platform ( is always on the lookout for new and exciting talent to join our lab which brings together over 30 researchers. We currently have numerous PhD positions available. These can be found at:

In addition to these we will welcome general enquiries and where possible are interested in supporting synergistic fellowship applications.

Research in the group focusses on a number of key areas:

(i)              The construction of artificial cells using microfluidic technologies (bottom-up synthetic biology). Using these platforms we are manufacturing artificial cells capable of emulating the complexities and multi-functionalities of natural cells including the ability to compartmentalize processes in different spatial localities and for these processes to interact with one another. Other features we are engineering into these systems include onboard chemical synthesis, environmental sensing, information storage and smart delivery. Most recently he has embarked on a £5.4M EPSRC Frontiers in Engineering grant aimed at scaling up these cutting edge synthetic biology approaches.

(ii)             Microfluidic single cell analysis and manipulation. We have developed the microfluidic antibody capture chip (MAC Chip), a generic assembly capable of undertaking the analysis of protein copy number from single cells. In addition we have developed droplet based technologies for undertaking biopsies from single cells. Our £4.6M EPSRC Proxomics grant ( is spearheading the MAC platform along with its translation into clinical contexts.

(iii)            Optonanofluidics. We have pioneered the development of microfluidic technologies for manufacturing micron sized ultra-low tension droplets. Using optical traps we can control the shape of these micron-sized emulsion droplets and create droplet networks connected by stable threads of oil a thousand times thinner than a human hair. We are using these droplets to create complex 3-D shapes and chemical reactions on the attolitre scale. Such microparticles have potential applications in medical devices, drug delivery, micromechanical systems, photonic materials and ion sources.

(iv)            Molecular Membrane Engineering. Fabrication of complex 2-D and 3-D lipid based assemblies including vesicles, bulk lipid mesophases (e.g. bicontinuous cubic phases), multisomes and droplet interface bilayers. Within these structures we aim to control parameters such as curvature, asymmetry, patterning, compartmentalization and content-all across multiple length scales. The £5M CAPITALS Programme he founded aims to push the boundaries and applications of Molecular Membrane Engineering (

(v)             Protein-membrane and drug-membrane interactions. We study the impact of interactions with cell and model membranes to predict the behaviour of drug molecules and proteins in-vivo. This includes the recent discovery of membrane mediated protein-protein communication.

(vi)            Lipid membrane mechanics. Using a variety of techniques we study how the mechanical properties of membranes such as rigidity and spontaneous curvature vary with factors such as lipid composition, asymmetry, protein content, temperature, hydrostatic pressure





Allen ME, Hindley J, O'Toole N, et al., 2023, Biomimetic Behaviours in Hydrogel Artificial Cells through Embedded Organelles, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of Usa, Vol:120, ISSN:0027-8424

Supramaniam P, Wang Z, Chatzimichail S, et al., 2023, Measuring Encapsulation Efficiency in Cell-Mimicking Giant Unilamellar Vesicles, Acs Synthetic Biology, Vol:12, ISSN:2161-5063, Pages:1227-1238

Gispert Contamina I, Hindley J, Pilkington C, et al., 2022, Stimuli-responsive vesicles as distributed artificial organelles for bacterial activation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of Usa, Vol:119, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:1-10

Allen ME, Hindley JW, Baxani DK, et al., 2022, Hydrogels as functional components in artificial cell systems, Nature Reviews Chemistry, Vol:6, ISSN:2397-3358, Pages:562-578

Zubaite G, Hindley JW, Ces O, et al., 2022, Dynamic reconfiguration of subcompartment architectures in artificial cells., Acs Nano, Vol:16, ISSN:1936-0851

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