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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Zorzan, I and López, AR and Malyshava, A and Ellis, T and Barberis, M},
doi = {10.1016/j.coisb.2020.12.002},
journal = {Current Opinion in Systems Biology},
pages = {11--26},
title = {Synthetic designs regulating cellular transitions: Fine-tuning of switches and oscillators},
url = {},
volume = {25},
year = {2021}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Biological circuits are responsible for transitions between cellular states in a timely fashion. For example, stem cells switch from an undifferentiated (unstable) state to a differentiated (stable) state. Conversely, cell cycle and circadian clocks are completed through transitions among successive (stable) states, i.e. waves, with (unstable) states switching them at definite timing. These transitions irreversibly determine the biological response or fate of a cell, to commit to reversible switches or to generate periodic oscillations of its state. Here, we review synthetic circuits that, in silico and in vivo, allow a cell to ‘make a decision’, i.e. to select which state to reach, among multiple ones available, through definite network designs. Specifically, we propose and discuss the designs, and their constituents motifs, which we consider to be more prone to reprogram cell behaviour, and whose parameters can be fine-tuned through systems biology and tested experimentally through Synthetic Biology. For these designs, exploration of the parameter space and of the influence of (external) cellular signals – which modulate circuit parameters – allows for the prediction of the circuit's response and its consequent impact on cell fate.
AU - Zorzan,I
AU - López,AR
AU - Malyshava,A
AU - Ellis,T
AU - Barberis,M
DO - 10.1016/j.coisb.2020.12.002
EP - 26
PY - 2021///
SP - 11
TI - Synthetic designs regulating cellular transitions: Fine-tuning of switches and oscillators
T2 - Current Opinion in Systems Biology
UR -
VL - 25
ER -