UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Chris Barnes

Prof Chris Barnes

Professor of Systems and Synthetic Biology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
4th Jan 2012

Research summary

Mutational processes: We focus on the mechanistic modelling of genetic and sequence data to try to infer the biological processes that shape genomes. We have developed evolutionary models that can be fit to cancer patient sequencing data to infer important parameters such as mutation rates and selection coefficients. We are currently working on modelling structural variation and chromosome instability to try to understand how these important processes contribute to intra-tumour heterogeneity.

Microbiome engineering: Ultimately, we are interested in developing tools to aid in the quantitative understanding of dynamics within microbial communities. We are developing whole-cell bacterial biosensors that can detect environmental changes due to the intestinal microbiota and inflammation. We have developed an experimental model using C. elegans that allows for the study of host-microbiota interactions. We also design and construct artificial microbial communities so that we can understand the design principles of microbial consortia.

Robust gene regulatory networks: Using model space exploration from Bayesian statistics we have developed and parameterised a number of models of morphogenesis in collaboration with developmental biologists. We have also used the same methods to examine the robustness of simple gene networks in the context of synthetic biology, including the dynamics of multi-functional networks. 

Teaching summary

EPSRC CDT in BioDesign Engineering: UCL Director

BBSRC LIDo DTP: Research and Training Committee

Developer SysMIC course: sysmic.ac.uk

Lectures on undergraduate courses in Biosciences, Infection and Immunity, Engineering

Projects on:

MRes Biosciences

MRes Synthetic Biology

MSc Genetics of Human Diseases

MSc Biophysics

Various final year BSc/MSci programmes


Institute of Education
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ02 - Recognised by the HEA as an Associate Fellow |


2005:           PhD High Energy Physics
                    Imperial College London

2005:  PDRA, LHCb experiment
                    CERN/Imperial College London

2006:  PDRA, CNV group, Matt Hurles
                    Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

2009:  PDRA, Theoretical Systems Biology, Michael Stumpf
                    Imperial College London

2012: Wellcome Trust RCD Fellowship,
    Lecturer, Cell and Developmental Biology, UCL
2015: Provost Teaching Award
2016: Reader of Systems and Synthetic Biology, UCL

2019: Professor of Systems and Synthetic Biology, UCL