UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering

Dr Darren Nesbeth

Dr Darren Nesbeth

Associate Professor

Dept of Biochemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
29th Oct 2007

Research summary

Darren N. Nesbeth's research is focused on the industrial application of synthetic biology for the re-design of living cells for improved upstream and downstream bioprocessing. His main area of expertise is in the use of molecular biology, intracellular trafficking and protein engineering to design cells with useful functions that are also robust to industrial environments. His research experience spans working with Escherichia coli, Pichia pastoris and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells in the fields of biopharmaceutical manufacturing, cell and gene therapy and whole cell biocatalysis. 

Darren coordinates the EUR1.86M ERA-IB  'IPCRES - Integrated Process and Cell Refactoring System' consortium of 8 partners across Europe including Ingenza and SilicoLife. In addition to applied research Darren also investigates the fundamental properties of synthetic gene networks and the biologically realisible design of cells that autonomously optimise their ability to perform a pre-programmed function. His research has also explored the feasibility of establishing synthetic biology standards in bioprocess monitoring and genome design.

Teaching summary

Darren teaches applied molecular and cellular biology to undergraduate and masters students and spearheads UCL participation in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition, serving also as a competition judge. iGEM provides an opportunity to teams of students from across UCL to work on their own synthetic biology projects. He also teaches so-called 'DIY' molecular biology to students on UCL's groundbreaking BASc programme, introducing students to community laboratories such as the London BioHackspace. Darren drew on his extensive experience of teaching and supervision to edit and co-author the Synthetic Biology Handbook (CRC Press) that is now used as a standard text at UCL. 


Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
PhD, Cell and Molecular Biology | 1999
University College London
BSc, Molecular Biology | 1995


As a postdoctoral researcher Darren developed a self-biotinylating lentiviral 293T HEK packaging cell line with Professors Farzin Farzaneh (Kings College London) and Nigel Slater (Cambs). He also constructed single chain trimer versions of the human MHC Class I complex with Dr Keith Gould at Imperial College to investigate the aetiology of spondyloarthritis. Darren's postdoctoral research at UCL with Professors Eli Keshavarz-Moore and John Ward involved engineering Escherichia coli cells for improved bioprocessing of antibody-based therapeutics. Darren completed his PhD with Professor Mark Field working on intracellular trafficking in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei. After his PhD he took a 2-year career break from research to work in the City of London advising biotechnology and Internet companies on financial communication strategy as they sought initial public offering (IPO) on UK and European equity markets.