Speaker: Professor Wei Huang (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford)
Title: SimCells – Artificial Cellular Machine

Monday 23rd May, 3 pm
Lecture Theatre, John Garside Building, 131 Princess Street, Manchester. M1 7DN

Abstract: SimCells (Simple Cells) are chromosome-free bacteria controlled by designed DNA for novel tasks. They are genetically reprogrammable platforms, ready to read and express gene circuits and mini-genomes, designed from scratch. The design of SimCells involves sketching a cellular “hardware” blueprint (e.g. transcription/translation, membrane proteins and structure) and encoding DNA “software” that defines the ‘hardware’ and controls the performance of a bacterial cell. SimCells are non-replicating and highly controllable, taking advantages of live and non-live systems. We built SimCells from bacteria and used designed gene-circuits to hijack their cellular machinery for the applications in medicine, biomanufacturing and sustainable engineering.

Biography: Wei Huang is Professor of Biological Engineering at Department of Engineering, University of Oxford. He is a fellow of St Edmund Hall College. He was an EPSRC fellow on synthetic biology and a lecturer and senior lecturer at University of Sheffield. His research interests are synthetic biology and single cell biotechnology. He developed SimCells (simple cells) as a novel platform for synthetic biology, which can be used for biomanufacturing, vaccines, and medical therapy. He has developed various biosensors, including novel COVID19 test, which have been applied to medical diagnosis in many countries. He is one of pioneers who use Raman micro-spectroscopy technology to the study of physiology and metabolism at the single cell level. He developed various Raman activated cell sorting techniques including optical tweezers, microfluidic device and laser ejection to isolate single cells of microbes. He has published >100 journal papers. He is inventor for 16 patents. He is an associate editor of two academic journals: Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology. He has trained many successful scientists