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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in BioDesign Engineering

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in BioDesign Engineering

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in BioDesign Engineering aims to train the next generation of leaders at the interface of biology, engineering and data science. The CDT will have an integrative training programme that covers experimentation, automation, coding, data science and entrepreneurship applied to the design, realisation and optimisation of novel biological systems for diverse applications.

The CDT is being led by Imperial College with the University of Manchester and University College London as partners.

All students will undertake the MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College in their first year, with an extended project at the lead-supervisor institution, followed by a 3 year PhD registration in that host institution.

Our aim is to build an inclusive cohort of students with diverse skillsets from life sciences, engineering and physical/computational backgrounds. We therefore encourage applications from students that reflect this diversity.

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in BioDesign Engineering

The CDT in BioDesign Engineering is currently inviting applications for the below projects for the 2020 intake:

Design, engineering, and analysis of viability, growth and bioproduction impact of synthetic ribosomal RNAs in yeast

  • Lead supervisor: Prof P. Cai (University of Manchester)
  • Co-supervisor: Prof G-B. Stan (Imperial College London)

Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) is a highly conserved housekeeping multi-gene family that encodes ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs)1. rDNA is known to play key roles in many biological processes, such as maintaining genome integrity, aging, translation control during mammalian development, and adaptation to environmental stressors. This proposal aims to synthetically engineer and functionally dissect roles of ribosomal RNAs through synthetic genomics approaches, coupled with complementary quantitative mathematical modelling and data analysis. Overall, this project has the potential to develop optimised yeast strains with much reduced intrinsic cellular burden caused by rRNA transcription, which occupies up to 80% of the total transcriptional resources.

This project will be based at the University of Manchester.

Designing next-generation therapeutics for atopic eczema by controlling skin microbiome

  • Lead supervisor: Dr R. Tanaka (Imperial College London)
  • Co-supervisor: Dr R. Ledesma-Amaro (Imperial College London)

This project aims to bio-design a next-generation treatment for atopic dermatitis (AD), a very common devastating chronic skin disease. We will apply a rigorous engineering approach to elucidate mechanisms by which controlling skin microbiome could improve AD symptoms and to design microbial population that provides protection against AD development.

The project will build directly on the engineering methodologies developed in Tanaka group to design personalised AD treatment strategies using mathematical modelling and machine learning, and Ledesma-Amaro group’s cutting-edge techniques of engineering microbiomes using synthetic biology, giving the student the opportunity to make a direct impact on a clinically important problem.

This project will be based at Imperial College London.

Engineering industrially relevant traits in the farmed insect Hermetia illucens

  • Lead supervisor: Dr N. Windbichler (Imperial College London)
  • Co-supervisor: Dr O. Windram (Imperial College London)

The Black Soldier Fly is an industrial insect that is used for solid waste processing. By rearing the larvae on food waste, it is also possible to produce a sustainable protein source. Furthermore, larvae are a source of antimicrobial peptides and have a fat profile suitable for biodiesel – different new industries are lying in wait. Currently, genetic resources to create BSF strains optimized for each of these sectors are lacking. In this project we will use gene network analysis to predict genes underlying commercially relevant traits and use CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to attempt to generate better industrial insects.

This project will be based at Imperial College London.

Further information the projects and the application process can be found online at:\synthetic-biology\cdt-biodesign-engineering.

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