Synthetic Biology is the underpinning discipline for advances in the UK bioeconomy, currently worth around £200Bn. It is a technology base that is revolutionising methods of working in the biotechnology sector and represents a major opportunity for the UK economy, highlighted by two Government Roadmaps, most recently the 2016 “BioDesign for the Bioeconomy”
, and evidenced by RCUK investments through the Synthetic Biology for Growth programme.
The Centre for Synthetic Biology & Innovation (CSynBI) was established as the first UK National Centre for synthetic biology by an EPSRC grant in 2009. This enabled the establishment of a core group of academics working in synthetic biology at Imperial College. Since this time, it has been highly successful with the academics in CSynBI producing a large number of publications in top journals, attracting significant levels of independent research funding, running inter-faculty undergraduate and MRes teaching programmes and training a significant number of PhD students and Post-Docs.
A further significant development of the synthetic biology landscape at Imperial came in 2013 with the establishment of SynbiCITE
, the UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre for the commercialisation and translation of synthetic biology. In 2016 this was boosted with the opening of The London DNA Foundry
, the first UK synthetic biology foundry for the industrial automation of construction and validation of biological systems.
Since the end of the RCUK grant that supported CSynBI until 2014, the number of PIs with active research in synthetic biology has continued to grow significantly, calling for further expansion of our collective synthetic biology research activities across Imperial College London. This expansion has triggered the incorporation of the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology.
The Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology (IC-CSynB) provides leadership and vision for synthetic biology at Imperial College, whilst developing an open, inclusive and collaborative environment for the best interdisciplinary research and ideas to flourish. The new Centre is currently composed of 36 research groups across 6 Departments from the Faculties of Engineering, Life Sciences, and Medicine; the largest critical mass of world-class synthetic biology academics in the UK. Membership of the Centre is open to new members who have an interest and willingness to contribute to the development of the synthetic biology research and teaching activities within College.
Our Imperial-based academic (IC-CSynB) and industrial (SynbiCITE) activities in synthetic biology form the platform for a development pipeline that includes training from undergraduate to post-doctoral researchers combined with a world-leading research and a commercialisation and exploitation strategy. This presents a unique proposition and environment for research, development and application of synthetic biology to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to biomaterials to sustainable energy.