Biochemical Engineering news
- bioProcessUK presents inaugural Peter Dunnill Award
- UCL undergraduates win gold medal at International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition hosted by MIT
- BiCE Team Win 2010 IChemE Innovation and Excellence Award
- The new EPSRC Centre launch in November 2011
- New MBI Courses Launched for 2011-2012
- UG Design Project Poster Session with Industrialists - 16th December 2011
- Platinum award for UCL synthetic biology competition student project
- Ashok Kumar Fellowship prize
- Abbott Innovation University Challenge Success
- Students on Course for a Career in Biochemical Engineering
- UCL- CPI: INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY TRAINING COLLABORATION
- Department Leads HEFCE Catalyst Fund Proposal to Enhance Therapeutic Discovery and Biomanufacture
Platinum award for UCL synthetic biology competition student project
12 January 2012
UCL iGEM coordinator Dr Darren Nesbeth was on the Judging Panel at iGEM Europe 2011 and supervised UCL's 2011 iGEM team throughout their summer project to reduce the cost of manufacturing DNA medicines and gain valuable interdisciplinary experience of research, public engagement and ethics.
UCL Faculty of Engineering has lead UCL's participation in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition since 2009 via the Department of Biochemical Engineering. For the first time this year UCL competed in the new-format Europe Jamboree iGEM championship in Amsterdam alongside 50 other universities from the UK, Europe and Africa.
iGEM is an annual student Synthetic Biology design competition started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). UCL's student team was drawn from four UCL Faculties and included for the first time an A-level student, Thomas Deane, sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation, who was awarded an Exscitec Platinum Award for his work.
The UCL team – called ‘E. coili’ – set out to reduce the financial and environmental cost of manufacturing plasmid DNA-based medicines by genetically re-programming E. coli cells to 'supercoil' plasmid DNA for improved industrial scale plasmid DNA manufacturing.
Plasmid DNA is becoming increasingly important as a therapeutic in genetic vaccination and gene therapy. The E. coili team worked to modify levels of DNA supercoiling enzymes in E. coli and also supercoiling target sequences in the therapeutic plasmids.
This technology could ultimately be deployed in commercial plasmid DNA manufacturing, in order to boost productivity and quality while reducing production costs.
UCL Faculty of Engineering sponsored a multidisciplinary student team:
- Faculty of Engineering
Dept. of Biochemical Engineering students, Kinza Islam, Meng Li, Judith Albert, and Almaz Azlan
Dept. of Computer Science student, Philipp Boeing
Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences
Dept. Science and Technology Studies students, Louis Stupple-Harris and Anna Williams
- Faculty of Life Sciences
Research Dept. of Structural & Molecular Biology student, Kheng Tee
Dept. of Biosciences student, Ejaj Intisar
- Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL Medical School student Alfred Ho
- University of Westminster
Art/Science PhD student Howard Boland
PhD students Oriana Losito (Structural & Molecular Biology) and Yu-Chia Wei (Biochemical Engineering) also worked as instructors. The team worked throughout the summer using the industrial biomanufacturing facilities at the Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering (ACBE) before the iGEM Europe Jamboree event in Amsterdam in October. The team also organised two very successful public debates of the issues surrounding synthetic biology, at UCL's Haldane Room and the Science Museum’s Dana Centre, a purpose-built venue for events exploring topical issues in science.
Team member Alfred Ho (UCL Medical School) said: ‘iGEM was a great opportunity for me to see first hand the importance of research in the field of medicine. I also enjoyed meeting fellow students from all over the UK and Europe.’
Oriana Losito, who is now in the final stages of her PhD with Prof. John Ward in the Research Dept. of Structural & Molecular Biology, reflected: "iGEM gives the students a valuable chance to not only learn lab skills and experience a research environment but also to develop skills like team-work and communication. If only UCL had an iGEM team when I was an undergraduate!"
PhD student instructor Yu-chia Wei, a second year PhD student with Dr Darren Nesbeth, said "Supervising this year's UCL iGEM team has been a great learning experience for me. I also really appreciate the opportunity iGEM has afforded me to visit great cities like Seville for iGEM training, Amsterdam for the Jamboree and not forgetting Norwich for the UK universities iGEM get-together event!'
Dr Darren Nesbeth coordinated UCL's iGEM efforts for the third year, supported by Professors Eli Keshavarz-Moore and John Ward. He summed up, "2011 has seen student-led synthetic biology at UCL take great strides. Students from six UCL Departments, across four Faculties, along with A-level student Tom Deane and University of Westminster student Howard Boland, came together to work hard and learn new skills. Alumni from this year's iGEM have founded the UCL Synthetic Biology Society which is already playing an active role in shaping and improving UCL's iGEM activities going forward. It was also a great honour to be appointed to the iGEM Judging Panel for the first time, which gave me the opportunity to experience a different side of the competition. I anticipate great things for iGEM at UCL in the coming years!"
Additional financial support for UCL’s iGEM 2011 team was provided by Eli Lilly, Lonza Biologics and the Health Protection Agency, which are all partners in the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre programme within UCL Biochemical Engineering, and also the Research Dept. of Structural & Molecular Biology.
For information about iGEM 2012, contact Dr Darren N. Nesbeth
The Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at UCL focuses on improving and enabling manufacture of so-called ‘next generation’ medicines such as potent protein products, gene therapy vectors and new classes of vaccine. Its work also has major implications for fields as diverse as biofuels and regenerative medicine.
The UCL Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering is a globally recognised centre of excellence in linking bioscience insight to understanding of bioprocesses, enabling research discoveries to be directly translated into real healthcare outcomes. It has invested over £30 million in new facilities in recent years and has its own pilot plant facility for the scale verification of bioprocess performance.
Photo from left, standing: Yu-chia Wei, Philipp Boeing, Anna Williams, Alfred Ho, Louis Stupple-Harris, Kinza Isalam and Oriana Losito. From left, sitting: Almaz Azlan, Prof. Eli Keshavarz-Moore, Dr Darren N. Nesbeth and Meng Li.
Page last modified on 12 jan 12 10:04