The overall aim of the Synthetic Biology is to address major environmental, health and societal challenges by engineering biological systems such that they display functions that do not exist in nature, as well as re-designing existing biological systems so that they perform new functions. Our research focuses on three key areas of activity.
- Gene therapy: Some diseases and disorders happen because certain genes work incorrectly or no longer work at all. We are designing therapeutic interventions for human diseases and disorders by developing the technologies to correct defective genes. Our current projects within this area look at vector development for effective gene therapy, assessing and avoiding the risks of gene therapy (genotoxicity) and using the technologies of gene therapy to give new insights into cancer development.
- Microbial bioengineering: The most exploitable and engineerable organisms are bacteria, so we want to harness their capacity and diversity to create white technologies –those which cause no harm. Our research uses integrated genomics strategies to direct bacterial engineering for a number of translational applications. We look at possible ways to create novel bacteria –bacteria that can produce clean proteins, for example, or bacteria that can improve the performance of cement. Using bioengineered microbes, we look at ways to degrade environmental pollutants; generate products using alternatives to petrochemicals; and reuse waste biomaterials from biomass and biodiesel manufacture. There are even investigations within our theme into ways of addressing antibiotic resistance in medically important bacteria. We are exploring other areas, and are open to developing new lines of research that will make the best use of the strain and widely applicable tools for strain assessment and development, especially when they are directed at projects that have sustainability as part of what they seek to achieve.
Careers and your future
Tailored careers support is offered to all our current PhD students and for up to 3 years after you complete your research at Brunel. We help you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research. Our careers provision includes online advice, one to one consultations and a range of events and workshops.
In addition, where available, you may be able to undertake some paid work as we recognise that teaching and learning support duties represent an important professional and career development opportunity. MPhil option available.