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PhD studentship in computational synthetic biology – fostering bio-design automation through standards

Project Description

Number of awards:


Start date and duration:

October 2019 for 4 years


Synthetic biology aims at engineering bio-computing devices in living organisms. Key to this endeavour is the computer-aided design of biological systems, which is not yet robust enough to design fully predictable genetic circuits. To this end, we need standards. Foremost among emerging computing standards is the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL), an open standard for the representation of in silico biological designs.

This PhD project will focus on the research and development of novel design methods for synthetic biology based on SBOL. SBOL is being developed by an international community, for which the supervisors are Editor and Chair. This standard provides a data format that can capture information of complex systems in unprecedented level of detail, leading to the potential automation of synthetic biology workflows.

You will join the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex Biosystems (ICOS) research group, a team with a total of >55 members including computer scientists, engineers, biochemists, physicists and molecular biologists – all of which are working at the interface of biology and computing.

You will collaborate with the company DOULIX TM, which has provided what is known to be the first end-to-end solution for synthetic biology, allowing scientists to move from design to synthesis and testing within one single platform. This partnership will allow you to test SBOL-based design solutions in a real-life setup.

You will acquire interdisciplinary skills. These include molecular biology and dynamic modelling, along with other skills in databases and CAD tool development. You will benefit from strong national and international exposure through conferences. You will develop communication skills, and learn to write up research results for publication.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ( and Double Helix Technologies (DOULIX TM) (

Name of supervisor(s):

Angel Goni-Moreno (
Anil Wipat (

Eligibility Criteria:

Candidates should have a strong computer science or related background and a keen interest in developing and applying computational techniques to Synthetic Biology. Knowledge of molecular biology is a bonus.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria (, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

How to apply:

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account ( To do this please select ‘How to Apply’

All relevant fields should be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:
•click on programme of study
•insert the programme code 8050F in the programme of study section
•select ‘PhD Computer Science - Computing Science’ as the programme of study
•insert the studentship code CASE04 in the studentship/partnership reference field
•attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code CASE04 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
•attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.
•please also send a copy of your CV to

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU fees (eligibility criteria applies to EU students) and annual living allowance of £14,777 (at the 2018/19 UKRI rate.)

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