Joint OpenPlant Fund/ Biomaker call opens Monday 8 April and closes Monday 13 May

The next call for OpenPlant Fund applications is announced!

This year’s OpenPlant Fund call is joined with the Cambridge-Norwich Biomaker Challenge. More information on this joint call can be found at:

A summary of the important dates can be found below:

Call Opens: Monday 8 April

Mixer event in Cambridge: Thursday 25 April (Transport Norwich - Cambridge can be provided)

Call closes: Monday 13 May

Challenge Begins: Friday 24 May

Progress reports and presentations: Monday 29 July (OpenPlant Forum Event)

Challenge Closes/Open Technology Workshop: Saturday 2 November


Cambridge Science Festival

Cambridge Science festival.jpg

For this year's Cambridge Science Festival, Alex Ting (Cambridge OpenPlant coordinator) teamed up with Biomakespace, SciArt in Cambridge, and independent events producer Sophie Weeks to host The Art & Science Soirée. The event brought together scientists, engineers, artists and designers engaged in DIY science for an exciting evening of speed meets, snap-talks, hands-on demos, and unexpected encounters. 

The event opened with slam poetry by Peter Bickerton (Science Communicator, Earlham Institute) followed by a talk by Jim Ajioka (Co-founder, Colorifix) and Giulia Tomasello (Interaction Designer specialising in women's healthcare.) Inside the house, Biomaker Challenge teams exhibited their low-cost, open-source projects. The aim of the event was to provide inspiration for open science projects (talks and demos), showcase the tools available to pursue such projects (Biomaker Challenge), and highlight a community-access space for biology and prototyping (Biomakespace). We hope that the event will inspire and provide an avenue for artists, designers, and other non-scientists to get involved in open science. 

Photos of the event can be found here:

Apply now for eLife Innovation Sprint - bringing cutting-edge technology to open research


The eLife Innovation Sprint is a two-day challenge on 10-11 May 2018 for developers, designers, technologists and researchers to collaboratively prototype innovations that bring cutting-edge technology to open research.

The eLife Innovation Initiative have been working to improve research transparency and accessibility, and accelerate discovery in the life sciences, by developing open-source technologies in collaboration with the wider community. They have heard many excellent ideas for transforming how the latest science is shared, built upon and recognised, and  they want to create a space that would help translate these ideas into action.

By bringing ideators, creators and users together for the Innovation Sprint, they hope to provide space, time and access to diverse skill sets for the community to develop their ideas into prototypes and forge new collaborations.

eLife invite you — whether change maker or web wrangler, UX champion or data tinkerer — to apply to participate in person.

Apply now >>

Applications will close at 9am GMT on March 5 2018, and we aim to communicate the outcome of each application by March 23 2018.

[Closes 28 Feb] Early registration now open for Crossing Kingdoms: an international synthetic biology symposium


Crossing Kingdoms is an international 3 day-event bringing together scientists from the microbial, animal and plant fields to present their results and highlighting how knowledge from these different life forms provide tools for synthetic biology innovations and applications.

Registration for Crossing Kingdoms is now open.


Abstract submission

Submissions for oral and poster presentations  are welcome.  To submit a pdf or Word file containing your abstract please complete the electronic submission form here.

List of confirmed speakers:


Alain Tissier (Halle) and Philip Wigge (Cambridge).
Supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and ERA-SynBio.

Download the conference poster for your noticeboard


Expressions of interest open for BrisSynBio 4 Day MBA (9 - 13 April 2018)

BrisSynBio will be running their successful 4 day MBA again in April 2018 and are likely to be able to offer significantly discounted (or even free) tickets to postdocs and PhD students from the UK Synthetic Biology Research Centres, including OpenPlant

Details of the 2017 course are available here:

Early expressions of interest should go to Andy Boyce:  

[Closes 30 Nov 2017] GapSummit 2018 open for applications

GapSummit is 'The world’s first global and intergenerational leadership summit in biotechnology' from Global Biotech Revolution and will take place 16-18 April 2018 at St Johns College, Cambridge.

The GapSummit welcomes 100 future bio-leaders (Leaders of Tomorrow) from around the world for a 3-day conference, which aims to "provide the bio-leaders of tomorrow with a comprehensive overview of current and future biotechnology trends and issues, inciting discussion about world challenges that can be met by biotechnological application."

 The GapSummit 2018 will attract more than 60 world leaders and pioneers from the biotech, pharmaceutical & healthcare industry to the University of Cambridge.


Deadline 30 Nov 2017

Cafe Synthetique, CRISPR: Genome editing comes of age

Café Synthetique is the monthly meetup for the Cambridge synthetic biology community with informal talks, discussion and pub snacks.

This months' theme will focus on genetic circuit engineering, which is the synthesis of unnatural DNA segments encoding protein or RNA molecules that control each other’s levels. Come along and learn more about this exciting technology! 

We have two excellent speakers whose work focuses respectively on the use of CRISPR and the design of genetic circuits, and the application of cell engineering in Bioprocess.  

Free bar snacks and good conversation provided!


Talks and speakers

"Using CRISPR in Cancer research" 

Dr Alisdair Russell, Cambridge Cancer Centre

Alasdair heads up a specialised team that provide a centralised ‘Hub’ for the innovation and application of state-of-the-art Genome Editing technologies to complex, patient-relevant model systems in a pre-clinical setting. They use these novel models in a range of pre-clinical trials to advance our understanding of disease. 

"Advances in genome editing: could we design the perfect cell line for
the manufacture of biotherapeutics?"

Dr Bruno Fievet, Senior Scientist, Applied R&D, Horizon

Bruno works as part of Products Division for applications in Bioprocess, and is using leading edge genome editing technology to develop new mammalian host cell lines for the Bioprocess Industry.  


For more information, and to RSVP, click here.

John Innes Centre announces EMBO practical course: "Multilevel Modelling of Morphogenesis"

"Multilevel Modelling of Morphogenesis" Venue: John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK Course Duration: 16 – 28 July 2017

Main Course Objective:

Understanding the multi-level nature and feedbacks involved in biological development requires an integrated, systems biology approach. This practical course will provide students with the theoretical background and the hands-on tools that are needed to enter this rapidly growing area of science. The methods and techniques taught in this practical course are essential for unravelling the complexities that come from interactions between different levels of biological organisation and the non linearity of the biological processes.

Target Audience:

This practical course is aimed at experimental biologists with an interest to understand and explore how the complexity of biological systems can be dealt with within a mathematical or computational framework, *and* at computationally and mathematically oriented students interested in learning leading-edge computational techniques that can be applied to gain insights in developmental biology.

How to Apply:

Please register online at stating your motivation for applying and brief research interests.

Applications will be limited to 24 students and successful applicants will be selected from the described motivation and research interests. Accommodation and full board will be provided.

*Application Deadline:* April 07, 2017.


For more information, please click here.

SynBioBeta London 2017 conference, Imperial College London, UK.

SynBioBeta London 2017, Imperial College London, UK

Connect with the Global Synthetic Biology Community. For the 5th year in a row, SynBioBeta London 2017 will bring together thought leaders and entrepreneurs from multiple facets of the synthetic biology industry.

Our focus is to unite attendees through thought-provoking talks, panels and networking opportunities, allowing the science and business sides of the industry to make critical connections.

With talks from key decision makers and tech pioneers, SynBioBeta is a must for those wanting to keep up with the rapidly-evolving industry. Networking opportunities are rich for those aiming to grow their company, their client list, meet investors or launch their next product. Many partnerships, connections, and new ventures have been started at SynBioBeta. If you are an active part of the synthetic biology industry and have a passion for making biology easier to engineer, then this is a must attend event.

SynBioBeta have offered a discount code to for the event, which entitles partipants to 20% off the cost of attending the conference. 

The discount code is: CambridgeMeetLON17


For more information, and to register using the discount code above, please click here.

16/17 March: Programmable biology for diagnostics - impacting global health and development

09:00-16:00, Mar 16/17, 2017, The Hauser Forum, 3 Charles Babbage Rd, Cambridge CB3 0GT

These day-long workshops will introduce challenges and opportunities in the field of cell-free diagnostics, with talks from the OpenDiagnostics team, expert in the latest advances of this technology Keith Pardee (University of Toronto, Canada) and plant disease expert Dr Richard Echodu (Gulu University, Uganda). This will be followed by an interactive sandpit session, and lab practicals the following day.

Harnessing recent advances in synthetic biology, cell-free paper-based diagnostics offer a platform for low cost, easy-to-use, in-field testing systems for a wide range of possible specificities. Synthetic gene networks can be designed to generate quantifiable outputs, such as chromoproteins that lead to visual color changes, in the presence of specific input signals like heavy metal ions or viral RNA sequences. These DNA circuits can be freeze-dried onto paper, along with the cellular machinery used for gene transcription and translation. When rehydrated, a simple visible readout can be produced and little or no laboratory experience or infrastructure is required. Critically, the low cost of these strips (~0.1$/test) will enable access across low and middle income countries.


OpenDiagnostics is an interdisciplinary team of early career researchers with three aims: to prototype solutions to technical challenges in cell-free diagnostics, to investigate potential applications, and to connect scientific experts with stakeholders.


OpenDiagnostics Seminar

This morning workshop will introduce the challenges and opportunities uncovered by the team, with additional talks from the originator of the latest advances in the technology Keith Pardee (University of Toronto, Canada) and plant disease expert Dr Richard Echodu (Gulu University, Uganda).


OpenDiagnostics Sandpit

Get involved in tackling global health challenges using programmable biology! If you would be interested to help generate ideas and collaborate with OpenDiagnostics, you’re invited to join this interactive sandpit event. Interdisciplinary teams will tackle a range of technical challenges identified by OpenDiagnostics requiring expertise from across the natural sciences, engineering and computer science through to manufacturing, law and social sciences. Solutions may be put forward as funding proposals for the OpenPlant Fund call in July 2017, which offers £5k grants to interdisciplinary projects in synthetic biology.


Lab practicals (17th Mar)

Get hands on with designing logic circuits using DNA and programming cell extracts to produce colours or other reporters in response to a signal. Physicists, engineers, computer scientists and other non-biologists are particularly welcome to attend and explore new technologies that bring engineering thinking into biology. No prior experience required.

Tickets are free, however spaces are limited. To register, please click here.



16th March 2017 Seminar and Sandpit sessions

9.00-9.20 Registration

9.20-10.40 About OpenDiagnostics

  • Introduction to OpenDiagnostics

  • Insights from field trips to Kenya and South Africa

10.40-11.00 Refreshments

11.00-12.00 Expert talks

  • Richard Echodu on challenges and opportunities for crop disease diagnostics in Africa

  • Keith Pardee on cell-free synthetic diagnostics and portable, on-demand biomanufacturing

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.45 Focus Groups

14.45-15.00 Refreshments

15.00-15.30 Presentation of OpenPlant Fund proposal ideas

15.30-16.00 Wrapping up and networking


17th March 2017 - Practicals

09:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00, Department of Veterinary Science

There will be a day long practical session taking place at the University of Cambridge department of Veterinary Medicine on the 17th of March. Details for the venue to come. 


Additional events

In addition to this event, there will also be an event titled: 'Programmable cell extracts - a new biomanufacturing paradigm' taking place at 18:30-9:00 on the 16th March at the Old Divinity School, St Johns College. The talk and dialogue will be followed by a wine reception and delicious finger buffet. 

This event is bookable through e-sales on the university website (registration £5). Please click here for more information.


Tickets and Booking

Please note that if you wish to attend several of the available sessions, you can order tickets for multiple events through the registration option. However, if you wish to attend the sandpit session on the 16th March, you need to attend the seminar session first.


Tickets are free, however spaces are limited. To register, please click here.

More information about this event…

16 March: Programmable Cell Extracts - A New Biomanufacturing Paradigm

Mar 16, 2017, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM, Old Divinity School, St Johns College.

Dr. Keith Pardee (University of Toronto) and Dr. Richard Kelwick (Imperial College) discuss how use of cell extracts could revolutionise the field of biomanufacturing. The talk and dialogue will be followed by a wine reception and delicious finger buffet.

Bioengineering to produce complex control circuits like diagnostic tests, or to modify metabolic pathways for production of everything from drug and vaccines to flavours and fragrances, has typically taken place in cells that are then grown in large, industrial bioreactors. New methods, using cell extracts that can be programmed quickly and flexibly using DNA, promise a paradigm shift in biomanufacturing and paves the way to novel modes of computational biodesign, rapid prototyping and bioproduction. The opportunity to freeze-dry and ship these biofactories opens up many exciting possibilities for small scale distributed manufacturing, for example just-in-time vaccine production, and has profound implications for emerging bioeconomies.

The Synthetic Biology SRI welcomes two researchers to discuss this new area of synthetic biology and its possible futures.

Dr. Keith Pardee (University of Toronto) works at the interface of synthetic biology and human health. His research focuses on the potential of moving synthetic biology outside of the cell and dry shipment of programmable biofactories to enable diagnostics and just in time production of vaccines and biologics.

Dr. Richard Kelwick (Imperial College) researches cell-free systems and biopolymer production, including establishing cell-free methods and toolkits for new bacterial strains, most recently Bacillus subtilis. He also works on bioreporters and biosensors using synthetic gene circuits.

The talk and dialogue will be followed by a wine reception and delicious finger buffet.

For more information, and to register for the seminar (£5), please book here.


This event is organised by the Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative as part of our Lent Term 2017 SynBio Forum. For more events please visit


Additional event

This event is being run in conjunction with a free day seminar and workshop session taking place on 16th March 2017, entitled: ‘Programmable biology for diagnostics impacting global health and development’, details of which can be found here.

More information about this event…

EUSynBioS announces 2017 dates for their annual Symposium 2017 (Aug 31 - Sep 1)

The European Association of Synthetic Biology Students and Postdocs (EUSynBioS) are excited to announce dates for their annual symposium on Synthetic Biology held Aug 31 - Sep 1 2017 in Madrid.

The Symposium features exciting speakers and interactive sessions to foster greater collaboration and engagement within the European Synthetic Biology community. EUSynBioS is at heart a student and post-doc association and havereserved a majority of speaking time for PhD students and early career post-docs to present their research to peers and leading academics and industry representatives. 

The European Association of Students and Post-docs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) was founded as a student-led initiative in late 2014. Their goal is to shape and foster a community of young researchers active the young scientific discipline of synthetic biology within Europe by means of providing an integrative central resource for interaction and professional development.

For more information, please click here.

Registration opens for OpenPlant Forum in Cambridge, 24-26 July 2017

OpenPlant Forum is an annual open meeting for plant synthetic biology organised by the OpenPlant partners: University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre and the Earlham Institute. Attendees from other organisations are welcome.

In 2017 the theme is fast and frugal engineering with biology. Join us to explore new ways of exploiting genetic tools, automation, open international exchange, DIY/maker approaches and more to develop globally accessible synthetic biology research and teaching resources. We will showcase the latest developments in plant synthetic biology from within OpenPlant and beyond, alongside outcomes from OpenPlant Fund, our seed funding scheme which has already supported almost 40 interdisciplinary projects led by early career researchers.

Registration is free to all but places are limited, please sign up early to ensure your space.

You can find more information on the Forum via the OpenPlant website.

Co-Lab OpenPlant: an interdisciplinary science design workshop

The 5th edition of Co-Lab workshop was hosted in Cambridge, including Makespace Cambridge and Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge. This workshop received a grant from the OpenPlant Fund, with the aim to spur discussion of plant synthetic biology from an ethnographic point of view. The facilitator, Open Science School, is an non-profit based in Paris interested in exploration of open source technology in the fields of education, design and beyond.

This is a guest post by Lena Asai from Open Science School. Follow her @LenaAsai!

Image credits: Imane Baïz

Image credits: Imane Baïz

The workshop consisted of 3 ideation workshops and a ‘Big Making Days’ prototyping workshop with activities that bridges together artists, scientists and designers to brainstorm and work on an interdisciplinary project around synthetic biology and life engineering. The programme includes pigment extraction, making electricity with plants (hosted by Paolo Bombelli), Ethnography activity, and series of participatory lectures.

The Big Making Days at Makespace on 7 - 9 October were a great opportunity for the participants to indulge in a full weekend of making at the Makespace. The three projects funded by the workshop were:

Project 1: VRICKS (Virus Bricks for Citizens)  #virus #3Dmodel #SyntheticBiology #LearningByDoing #DesignToShare

VRICKS is a citizen science based project that aims to connect students and general public with science. Virology is the basic scientific direction of the project. Researchers go to a classroom or science event, they pitch the project and the participants play, design and assemble viral structures using the VRICKS box. Participants upload pictures of the assembled structures in Twitter/Instagram. Researchers pick their favourite structure once a week and comment on it in the blog of the project. Additionally, researchers get inspired by the proposed structures and might even add new VRICKS to the collection. In the end, we have a citizen science project, which combines education, creative thinking and advanced research technologies.

Pictured in the middle, is a prototype constructed by the VRICKs team, created using the laser cutter. The project was presented at the Science Festival in Norwich along with Roger’s PhD project on viral structures (pictured in the left). Photo Credit: Roger Castells

Pictured in the middle, is a prototype constructed by the VRICKs team, created using the laser cutter. The project was presented at the Science Festival in Norwich along with Roger’s PhD project on viral structures (pictured in the left). Photo Credit: Roger Castells

Project 2: TEB (The Edible Books)
#Food #Books #Edible #Supplements #Education

The edible book aims to present the traditional hardback book in a new light. The edible rice paper will add an additional layer of sensory experience to reading the book, whether for educational purposes aimed at young children, or for novelty purposes aimed at opening the minds of gift-givers, and even as an innovative medium for communicating food science principles, inside and outside the kitchen.


#Perception #Smell #diyEEG #SmellDirectory #EmotionAndScent

Image Credit: Lena Asai

Image Credit: Lena Asai

Having the aim to investigate at the relationship of emotion and smells, this team utilised EEG scans to connect to sense of smell and person’s psyche. They sought to developing a framework, based on EEG and questionnaires, to elucidate these factors and to assemble a dictionary of smells, the reactions to which are most uniform and repeatable. Such a dictionary could have applications ranging from storytelling via an olfactory sequence of smell “snapshots” to mood control.

The participants took full advantage of the facility at of Makespace, especially during the Big Making Days. It was a fantastic experience for the workshop, as Makespace Cambridge is such a wonderful space and the participants were very thankful for this opportunity. We were able to host over 20 participants to work on the ideas developed during the Brainstorming Weekends. We would like to thank Directors of the Makespace, Jenny, Carlos and all Makespace members for providing us with such an amazing experience.

Image Credit: Paloma Portela

Image Credit: Paloma Portela

This workshop was supported by a grant received by OpenPlant, which allowed materials for participants to be fully funded. The workshop is part of EU project No. 709443.

Doing It Together Science (DITOs), an EU citizen science project:

DITOs will implement many innovative participatory event formats across Europe focusing on the active involvement of citizens in two critical areas: the cutting edge topic of biodesign and the pressing area of environmental monitoring. The project will advance the EU Responsible Research and Innovation agenda by moving beyond more traditional approaches into direct engagement that builds upon DIY, grassroots, and frugal innovation initiatives so that in the short and medium term we sustain localised capacity building and in the long term the effects of these grassroots efforts channel into policy action at different levels.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 709443.

Photo Album!

Co-lab OpenPlant 2016

Café Synthetique - OpenPlant Fund Mixer and Microfluidics

screenshot-2016-11-10-14-40-092 Nov 24, 2016 from 06:00 PM to 08:45 PM

Panton Arms 43 Panton Street CB2 1HL, Cambridge.

Café Synthetique is the monthly meetup for the Cambridge synthetic biology community with informal talks, discussion and pub snacks.

This month we’ll hear from 2016 OpenPlant Fund grantees and discuss your ideas for open, innovative and interdisciplinary projects in cell-free or plant synthetic biology.

OpenPlant Fund Mixer

The OpenPlant Fund will support innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant Synthetic Biology over 2015-19. Around 20 six-month projects per year will receive £4k each, with an additional £1k awarded on completion for follow-on and outreach. We are now accepting applications with a submission deadline of 1 December 2016.

If you are interested in finding out more, come along to our mixer event on November 21st.

This event will be casual, and informative so that you can find out more about the fund, share ideas and meet potential collaborators – you do not need to have a proposal ready formulated beforehand.

The aim of the fund is to promote the development of plant Synthetic Biology as an interdisciplinary field and to facilitate exchange between The University of Cambridge, the John Innes Centre, the Ealham Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory for the development of open technologies and responsible innovation in the context of Synthetic Biology.

In 2015 the OpenPlant Fund supported 16 projects with very diverse aims, from lab-based projects to generate and characterise DNA parts, through hardware and software projects to workshops in intellectual property, hackathons and outreach.

For more information on the fund, click here.


This month, Café Synthetique will also include a series of talks on the emerging topic of microfluidics. This month’s speakers will include Ivan Reyna-Llorens, Steve Burgess, Florian Hollfelder, and Clive Smith from Sphere Fluidics.

”Plant ProChip: A microfluidic device for high-throughput analysis of genetic circuits in plant protoplasts.”

Ivan Reyna-Llorens is post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Plant Sciences.

”High Throughput Screening of Synthetic Biology Libraries by ESI Mass Spectrometry”

Clive Smith is principal chemist at Cambridge based company Sphere Fluidics.

”Plant ProChip: Exploring the Use of Microfluidics for High-throughput Screening in Plants”

Steve Burgess is a research staff member in the Department of Plant Sciences.

”Topic title TBC ”

Dr Florian Hollfelder is a principal investigator in the Department of Biochemistry.

Please join us in the Panton Arms pub at 6pm.

Cafe Synthetique - 'Chloroplast engineering' and 'Biomimetic materials'

Image result for chloroplast basf

Monday 17 October 2016, 18:00Panton Arms 43 Panton Street CB2 1HL, Cambridge.

Café Synthetique is the monthly meetup for the Cambridge synthetic biology community with informal talks, discussion and pub snacks.

iGEM Cambridge team 2016 are taking part in the prestigious iGEM synthetic biology competition. Focusing on chloroplast engineering, the team are interested in using chloroplasts to produce metabolic products, such as biofuels and edible vaccines.

Michelle L. Oyen is a Reader in the Bioengineering in the Mechanics and Materials Division and the Bioengineering research group in the Cambridge University Engineering Department. Her work involves research on mechanical behavior in biological materials with many of her projects having a distinct biomedical focus.

"InstaCHLAM, a toolbox for chloroplast engineering"

iGEM team 2016, Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

"Biomimetic materials for structural applications"

Michelle L. Oyen, Reader, Cambridge University Engineering Dept., The Nanoscience Centre

Please join us in the Panton Arms pub at 6pm.

More information about this event…

Image credit: Photo from BASF on Flicker, licensed under cc by-nc-nd/2.0/-Image source

18 Oct: Sculpting evolution: engineering biology to address global disease challenges

18 October 2016, 7:30pm - 9pm followed by drinks reception

Dr Kevin Esvelt (MIT Media Lab) and Professor Luke Alphey (Pirbright Institute, founder of Oxitec Ltd) examine the science, ethics and regulation of genetic engineering to control mosquito-borne disease. What promise does this emerging technology hold and how do we ensure it is used responsibly?

FREE Registration >>

Biologists can now design genetic systems that engineer evolution in powerful ways with social, legal, ethical and environmental implications for our future. Mosquito populations can already be engineered using cutting edge techniques to drastically reduce their numbers or make them resistant to transmitting diseases like malaria, dengue or the emerging Zika virus.

Synthetic biologist Dr Kevin Esvelt (MIT Media Lab) will introduce his work on gene drive systems which rapidly spread malaria resistance within populations while Professor Luke Alphey (Pirbright Institute) will discuss his work founding Oxitec, a UK company that was the first to release genetically modified male mosquitoes whose offspring fail to reproduce, leading to dramatic reductions in numbers.

What safeguards and regulations are required to ensure responsible use of such technologies? What does it mean for humans to use nature's tools in this way? How do we balance the direct benefits for global health with any risks to our shared environment?

Talks and dialogue on the idea of sculpting evolution will be followed by a drinks reception.

More information about this event…

19 Oct: Programmable biology in the test tube

Wednesday 19 October 2016, 10:00-16:00, Department Of Plant Sciences Downing Street, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.

  During the event, the OpenPlant Fund will launch a linked call for mini-grants to support interdisciplinary collaborations on the theme of in vitro synthetic biology.Synthetic gene circuits can be used to generate rapid and low-cost paper-based diagnostics for diseases including Zika and Ebola. Dr Vincent Noireaux (University of Minnesota), Dr Nick Rollins (Cambridge Consultants) and Dr Fernan Federici (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and University of Cambridge) present the technology and its disruptive implications during this seminar and hands-on prototyping workshop.


10:00 Practical Session 1 - Introduction to cell-free system and assay set-up

12:00 Open lunchtime seminars, Large Lecture Theatre

Keynote: 'Cell-free Synthetic Biology', Dr Vincent Noireaux (University of Minnesota)

XylemDx and paper-based diagnostics', Dr Nick Rollins (Cambridge Consultants)Further talks TBCQ&A panel session on challenges and opportunities for in vitro synthetic biologyLaunch of an OpenPlant Fund call for innovative, interdisciplinary and open technology projectsIntroduction to forthcoming opportunities from Global Challenge Research Funds 14:00 Practical Session 2 - analysis of assay results

Joining for the lunchtime seminars only

Please register through eventbrite for your free ticket! Lunch is not included but you are welcome to bring your own.

Register for lunchtime seminars only >>

Applying for the practical workshop

Places are limited to a maximum of 30 for the practical session so we ask that you apply giving a brief statement about your interests and background by midnight on Mon 10 Oct. Places will be confirmed on Wed 12 Oct.

These spaces include attendance at the lunchtime talks and a free lunch. Please sign up only if you intend to join for the whole day and inform the organisers on as soon as possible if you are unable to take up your place once confirmed.

Apply now for the practical workshop >>

Deadline Mon 10 Oct 2016, confirmation of places on Wed 12 Oct 2016.

Synthetic biology for regenerative medicine

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 6:30 PMto8:00 PM

Old Divinity School, St John's College, St Johns St, Cambridge CB2 1TP, Cambridge

Professor Ron Weiss (MIT) introduces the design and implementation of synthetic gene circuits in mammalian systems, exploring the potential of this approach in regenerative medicine and stem cell engineering. The talk and dialogue will be followed by a wine reception and delicious finger buffet.

Professor Ron Weiss (MIT) is a pioneer of synthetic biology and is currently Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT in the Department of Biological Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The Weiss lab uses computer engineering principles of abstraction, composition, and interface specifications to program cells with sensors and actuators precisely controlled by analog and digital logic circuitry encoded in synthetic gene networks. These circuits can be used to control the behaviour of individual and aggregated cells and from early work in bacteria, the lab has more recently explored transcriptional regulation in mammalian cells. Professor Weiss’s research has traced a journey from genetic parts to modules and is now devising therapeutic systems that more reliably direct stem cells to create new tissues. This work aims to move towards replacing the cells lost to disease or injury, pushing the frontiers of the nascent field of synthetic morphogenesis. In this talk, we will explore the potential of synthetic biology as an approach in regenerative medicine and stem cell engineering.

The talk and dialogue will be followed by a wine reception and delicious finger buffet.

Registration: £10/£5

This event is organised by the Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative as part of our Michaelmas Term 2016 SynBio Forum. For more events please visit:

Please use this link to book attendance

Science Makers: drones for science

Science Makers is a monthly event to discuss and build low-cost, DIY and open hardware for science and education.

This month we're looking at the hot topic of drones, which are dropping in price and allowing more and more researchers to consider aerial studies which would previously have been prohibitively expensive. Drones are revolutionary in offering a fast and efficient way of collecting geological, atmospheric and wildlife data from above. Able to be equipped with on-board GPS navigation, sensory equipment, and even autopilots, many scientific groups are starting to catch on to the growing trend, with drones fast becoming the latest indispensable technology in many areas of science!

Hear from researchers building and using drones for science and get hands-on in the afternoon working on a project.

12:30 - Presentations and demos

Tom Swinfield - Conservation Scientist at RSPB

Working within the heavily degraded Harapan rainforest in Sumatra, Tom works on finding cost-effective, research-driven solutions to direct management of the forest. Part of his work involves optimising survey techniques to collect the best data possible, for which he has regularly utilises drones.

Nigel Butcher - Technical Development Officer at RSPB

Nigel organises the design and development of electronic devices for use in avian research undertaken by the RSPB. He has a particular focus on remote monitoring equipment and has experience working on drones for use in the field.

David Coomes - Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

David leads a research group engaged in conserving biodiversity, with a focus on forest conservation and ecology. His group regularly utilises drone technology to measure carbon storage in forests.

13:30 - Pizza (£4 suggested donation)

14:30 - Making!

Hands-on drone project TBC

You are also welcome to work on your own projects.

RSVP here: