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Lubbock Lecture 2024: Synthetic Biology - Biology by Design


Rhodes House

Date & Time

Friday 03 May 2024 14:30 - Friday 03 May 2024 19:15



Lubbock Lecture: "Synthetic Biology: Biology by Design"

Jim Collins, Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, Member of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology Faculty

Synthetic biology is bringing together engineers, physicists and biologists to model, design and construct biological circuits out of proteins, genes and other bits of DNA, and to use these circuits to rewire and reprogram organisms. These re-engineered organisms are going to change our lives in the coming years, leading to cheaper drugs, rapid diagnostic tests, and synthetic probiotics to treat infections and a range of complex diseases. In this talk, we highlight recent efforts to create synthetic gene networks and programmable cells, and discuss a variety of synthetic biology applications in biotechnology and biomedicine.

Professor Jim Collins

Jim Collins (Institute for Medical Engineering & Science Department of Biological Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Wyss Institute, Harvard University) is also a Core Founding Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is one of the founders of the field of synthetic biology, and his research group is currently focused on using synthetic biology to create next-generation diagnostics and therapeutics. Professor Collins' patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has co-founded a number of companies, including Synlogic, Senti Biosciences, Sherlock Biosciences and Cellarity, as well as Phare Bio, a non-profit focused on AI-driven antibiotic discovery. He has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur "Genius" Award and the Dickson Prize in Medicine, and he is an elected member of all three national academies - the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.

Mini Speakers

Robotics and Control meet Synthetic Biology

Harrison SteelProfessor Harrison Steel, Associate Professor of Engineering Science, Tutorial Fellow at Harris Manchester College.

Harrison Steel completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and a BSc in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Sydney. He then came to Oxford as a Monash Scholar and completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford as a Monash Scholar. Following his studies he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department's Control Group, before joining as an Associate Professor in 2020.

Biomaterials for SMART Medical Devices

Malavika NairMalavika Nair, Associate Professor of Biomaterials, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Non-Tutorial Fellow at St Catherine’s College 

Malavika is a materials scientist by training, obtaining a BA, MSci in Natural Sciences (2012-2016) and a PhD (2016-2019) from the University of Cambridge. Malavika's doctoral work was focused on the multiscale characterisation of ice, collagen, and ice-templated collagen scaffolds for tissue engineering. This was followed by post-doctoral research in 2020 combining machine learning techniques with experimental biomaterials datasets, and the award of a research fellowship at Emmanuel College where Malavika began working on electroactive biomaterials for tissue regeneration. In 2022, Malavika moved to the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering to expand the work on electroactive biomaterials for use in bio-stimulation, bio-sensing and drug delivery.

Feedback in Engineering Biology: Designing Biocontrollers

Antonis PapachristodoulouProfessor Antonis Papachristodoulou

Professor Papachristodoulou joined the University of Oxford in 2006, where he is currently Professor of Engineering Science and a Tutorial Fellow in Worcester College, Oxford. He was previously EPSRC Fellow and Director of the EPSRC & BBSRC Centre for Doctoral training in Synthetic Biology.  He is an IEEE Fellow for contributions to the analysis and design of networked control systems, and serves regularly on Technical Programme Committees for conferences. He also serve as Programme co-chair for the 2024 European Control Conference and as co-chair for the 2024 Learning for Dynamics and Control conference.