Synthetic biology

Traditionally, developmental biology and anatomy have been analytic sciences, proceeding by examination of naturally-formed bodies. We have begun to use the techniques of synthetic biology to try to engineer naive cells to undergo specific developmental behaviours that should, in theory, produce specific designed structures and patterns. Finding out whether they succeed is a valuable test of the correctness of current theories.


We call this approach 'synthetic morphology'. We have so far built a library of modules that cause cells to perform specific morphogenetic behaviours, we have built a synthetic patterning systems that pattern fields of cells de novo, and we have linked the two so that fields of cells self-pattern and then undergo morphogenesis to make a sturcture with physical form.

The lab is part of the University's SynthSys community. It is also part of the EU Cybergenetic initiative - CyGenTig.