Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering




+44 (0)20 7594 1824y.elani Website




207HMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus





For group website, please visit:

Dr Yuval Elani is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Lecturer (Asst. Professor) at Imperial Chemical Engineering, where he leads the Artificial Cell Engineering group. He previously held EPSRC and Imperial College Research Fellowships at Imperial Chemistry. Yuval is an expert in synthetic biology, membrane biophysics, opto- / microfluidics, and molecular bioengineering.

Since completing his PhD in 2015 Yuval has secured > £3.6M as PI to conduct both blue-skies and applied research and has set up several collaborations with clinicians and industry. He has won multiple prizes and medals, including the Roscoe Medal (Parliamentary & Scientific Committee), Rita and John Cornforth Medal (RSC), and the President’s Medal for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Yuval’s research is focussed on answering the following questions: Can we construct artificial cells – entities that mimic the architectures, processes, and behaviours of biological cells - from scratch? Can we engineer these to manufacture chemicals, generate their own energy, make decisions, communicate with their neighbours, and swim up concentration gradients?  And can artificial cells be interfaced  with living biological systems – organelles, cells, and tissues – to yield hybrid ‘cellular bionic’ systems composed of living and synthetic components?

By blurring the boundaries between living and non-living matter, Yuval’s group use artificial cells (i) as models to shed light on universal biological phenomena in simplified and highly controlled settings and (ii) as micromachines that perform bespoke and biotechnologically useful functions in a suite of industrial and clinical applications.

Prior to joining Imperial, Yuval was at Cambridge University where he studied Natural Sciences.  Yuval was recently honoured by the World Economic Forum, who selected him to be part of their Young Scientist Community (50 under 40 worldwide), and he sits on the EPSRC Early Career Forum for Engineering.



* UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2019)
* President Medal, Outstanding Early Career Researcher (2019)
* Imperial College Research Fellowship (2019)
* Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy (2018)
* Royal Soc. Chemistry Rita & John Cornforth Medal (2017)
* World Economic Forum, '50 under 40' (2017)
* EPSRC Fellowship (2016)
* Doctoral Prize Fellowship (2015)
* Roscoe Medal, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee (2015)
* Lord Porter Prize (2011)


Fusing living and non-living matter  to construct cellular bionic hybrid cellsScientific Reports , IFL Science

Sculpting 2D and 3D membrane networks using Optical Tweezers. Nature Communications, 

Light-activated hierarchical vesicle reactors.  Nature Communications, Press Release 

Spatially segregated vesicle-based artificial cells as chemical microreactors. Nature Communications 

Microfluidic construction of model membranes.  Chemical Communications, Lab on a Chip



We currently have two Leverhulme Cellular Bionics PhD studentships available for an October 2020 start:

1) Engineering synthetic cell ‘translators’ to mediate human-cell communication

2) Engineering motile artificial cells capable of swimming up concentration gradients

We may also have internal departmental PhD funding for the right candidate.


We currently have an opening for a 2-3 year postdoc position. The project involves developing novel technologies to manufacture artificial cells, and engineering them to have the behaviours that are the hallmarks of life: motility, metabolism, energy generation, communication, decision making, and self-repair. Applicants with expertise in membrane engineering, synthetic biology, microfluidics and/or molecular bioengineering are encouraged to apply. See advert for details. For more information please contact me directly.


We are always on the lookout for excellent MRes, PhDs, PDRAs, and fellows to join the group. If you are interested, please get in touch directly at

Prospective PhD students should be aware of the President's PhD Scholarship SchemeSchrödinger Scholarship SchemeChina Scholarship Council, and Imperial Marshall Scholarship. We have accepted MRes students from research programmes in Chemical Biology, Plant Chemical Biology, and Nanomaterials in the past, but those on other courses who would like to work with us are welcome to get in touch. 

We would also welcome interest to join the group as a fellow (e.g. on Marie Curie,  EPSRC and BBSRC schemes)

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Thomas JM, Friddin MS, Ces O, et al., 2017, Programming membrane permeability using integrated membrane pores and blockers as molecular regulators, Chemical Communications, Vol:53, ISSN:1359-7345, Pages:12282-12285

Salehi-Reyhani A, Ces O, Elani Y, 2017, Artificial cell mimics as simplified models for the study of cell biology, Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol:242, ISSN:1535-3702, Pages:1309-1317

Elani Y, 2016, Construction of membrane-bound artificial cells using microfluidics: a new frontier in bottom-up synthetic biology, Biochemical Society Transactions, Vol:44, ISSN:1470-8752, Pages:723-730

Elani Y, Solvas XC, Edel JB, et al., 2016, Microfluidic generation of encapsulated droplet interface bilayer networks (multisomes) and their use as cell-like reactors., Chemical Communications, Vol:52, ISSN:1364-548X, Pages:5961-5964

Elani Y, Law RV, Ces O, 2015, Protein synthesis in artificial cells: using compartmentalisation for spatial organisation in vesicle bioreactors, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol:17, ISSN:1463-9076, Pages:15534-15537

Ces O, Elani Y, Law R, 2014, Vesicle-based artificial cells as chemical microreactors with spatially segregated reaction pathways, Nature Communications, Vol:5, ISSN:2041-1723


Carreras P, Elani Y, Law R, et al., A droplet trapping microfluidic device for the study of mass-transport across droplet interface bilayers, MicroTAS 2014

More Publications