New Synbion Website
A new website for the Synbion Network is here. Synbion is a network of synthetic biologists interested in engineering novel metabolic pathways and making nanoscale biological devices.

Synthetic biology MRes
Details here.

Professor John Ward



I studied Biochemistry at the University of Bristol and graduated in 1975. I moved departments and joined the Department of Bacteriology to carry out research for my PhD on antibiotic resistance plasmids and transposable elements using the newly discovered restriction enzymes. After gaining my doctorate in 1981 I moved to UMIST in Manchester to a postdoctoral position on Pseudomonas catabolic plasmids.
On joining UCL in 1983 I started research on Streptomyces plasmids and also started a productive collaboration with the Department of Biochemical Engineering at UCL and with them have investigated several enzyme systems (dioxygenases, transketolase, Baeyer-Villiger mono-oxygenases, cytochrome P450's and transaminases) with the aim of producing robust biocatalysts. My collaboration with Biochemical Engineering as a member of the IMRC in Biochemical Engineering has continued and I use cell engineering to aid the bioprocessing of plasmid DNA, recombinant proteins and phages.
With colleagues in the Department of Chemistry I am developing the de novo construction of biosynthetic pathways for chiral molecules such as alkaloids.
A collaboration with the Eastman Dental Institute has led me to investigate the interaction of commensal and pathogenic bacteria with the human host using metagenomics and phage display to isolate adhesins. The techniques of metagenomics and my interest in novel bacteria have led to collaborations in the area of astrobiology.

Teaching and Administration

In 1983 I came to University College and started the MSc in Applied Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. I ran the MSc course for 17 years and in 2001 took over as programme tutor for the BSc in Biotechnology.
In 2010 I started the MRes in Synthetic Biology. I was appointed Professor of Molecular Microbiology in 2006 and am Chair of the Exam Boards for the three degree programmes in the Structural and Molecular Biology Department.