Jul 28

EMBO practical course: "Multilevel Modelling of Morphogenesis"

Venue: John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

*Application Deadline:* April 07, 2017.

For more information, please click here.


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 https://www.conference-service.com/pc17-47/welcome.cgi 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.

OpenPlant Forum 2017
Jul 26

OpenPlant Forum 2017

  • Downing College, University of Cambridge

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 pages.

Sep 1

EUSynBioS Annual Symposium 2017

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. For more information, please click here.

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 have reserved 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.

Synthetic Biology UK Conference 2017
Nov 28

Synthetic Biology UK Conference 2017

  • Manchester Conference Centre

Submit your abstract now: Abstract and Earlybird Deadline is 29 September 2017

The UK is a world leader in science and engineering, and Synthetic Biology has been identified as an important area for our continued success. Key to that success is a cohesive, vibrant and multidisciplinary community, open to collaboration, open to advances, supportive of young talent, and driven to exceptional research with meaningful outcomes.

The SynBio UK conference aims to showcase UK Synthetic Biology research and to create a focal point for the community, embracing its diversity and fostering its growth and its engagement with society.

Held in the vibrant city of Manchester, where scientists first split the atom, the Manchester SynBio Centre, SYNBIOCHEM, specialises in synthetic biology for fine and speciality chemicals production, providing some focus towards chemicals and industrial biotechnology at this year’s meeting.

Find out more at bit.ly/SynBio17

International Workshop on Control Engineering and Synthetic Biology
Jul 18

International Workshop on Control Engineering and Synthetic Biology

International Workshop on Control Engineering and Synthetic Biology - 17th and 18th July 2017, Royal Academy of Engineering – Prince Philip House, London, UK

Designing and implementing effective feedback control in living cells has the potential to dramatically change biotechnology and synthetic biology. However, before this potential is realised, a number of theoretical and practical challenges must be addressed, which lie at the interface between control engineering and synthetic biology.

This will be the topic of an International Workshop on Control Engineering and Synthetic Biology, which will be held on the 17th and 18th July 2017 at the Royal Academy of Engineering – Prince Philip House, London, UK. This workshop will discuss both the challenges and the opportunities that Synthetic Biology offers. A specific focus will be on the “next grand challenges” in the field of synthetic biology and how control engineering can address them. An exceptional group of speakers, world leaders in synthetic biology and control engineering, will present recent progress, identify challenges and share their vision of where synthetic biology is headed and how the control engineering community can contribute to delivering its promise.

This event is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under projects EP/M002454/1 and EP/M002187/1.

Please visit: 


for more information, the list of speakers, and to register.

Biomaker Challenge and OpenPlant Fund Mixer
5:00 pm17:00

Biomaker Challenge and OpenPlant Fund Mixer

  • Postdoc Centre (Basement)

RSVP to this event here >>

This event provides an opportunity to discuss your ideas for OpenPlant Fund proposals for innovative and interdisciplinary projects in plant synthetic biology or prototyping projects for the Biomaker Challenge.

Come along for an introduction to the opportunities, a chance to present your initial proposals and to meet potential collaborators over drinks and snacks.

A group will go for dinner in The Eagle after the event, all welcome.

The OpenPlant Fund (deadline 30 Jun 2017)

The OpenPlant Fund supports innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant Synthetic Biology. The next call for applications is now open and will close on 4 March 2016. 

The OpenPlant Fund has already supported 40 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.

The Biomaker Challenge (deadline 23 Jun 2017)

Biomaker Challenge is a four-month programme challenging interdisciplinary teams to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology. From colorimeters to microfluidics and beyond, we’re looking for frugal, open source and DIY approaches to biological experiments.

Participants will receive a Biomaker Toolkit and a discretionary budget for additional sensors, components, consumables and 3D-printing worth up to £1000. All teams will exhibit their device at a Biomaker Fayre in early November.

RSVP to this event here >>

Biomaker Challenge and OpenPlant Fund Mixer
3:00 pm15:00

Biomaker Challenge and OpenPlant Fund Mixer

  • Jane Rogers Seminar Room

Join others interested in participating in the Biomaker Challenge or OpenPlant Fund for drinks, snacks and sharing ideas for projects. There will also be the opportunity to find out more about the challenge, see some of the past projects that have inspired it and ask the organisers questions.

Science Make-a-thon (Biomaker Challenge Mixer)
Jun 4

Science Make-a-thon (Biomaker Challenge Mixer)

  • Cambridge Makespace

RSVP for this event here >>

Science Makers in June will precede a longer meetup to build equipment for the Biomakespace, a fledgling community lab for biology and engineering being established at the Biomedical Campus. Find out about a range of projects in low-cost equipment for molecular biology and imaging, see how internet of things technology is making it easier than ever before to connect equipment together and operate it remotely.

There will be an opportunity to find out more about the Biomaker Challenge and OpenPlant Fund, meet others interested in participating and ask questions.

RSVP for this event here >>

A synthetic biology approach to harness the regulatory potential of miRNAs in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
1:00 pm13:00

A synthetic biology approach to harness the regulatory potential of miRNAs in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Francisco J. Navarro, Baulcombe group, Department of Plant Sciences talks about his work with OpenPlant in understanding miRNA regulation in algae and using that for proof-of-concept engineering for miRNA-based gene circuits in higher plants.

microRNAs (miRNAs), small RNA molecules of 20–24 nts, have a number of features that make them ideal tools to regulate gene expression — small size, flexible design, target predictability and action at a late stage of the gene expression pipeline. The regulatory potential of miRNAs goes beyond gene repression, as they can confer robustness to gene expression, a feature which is desirable to implement in plant synthetic gene networks.

In order to harness the regulatory potential of miRNAs, a comprehensive understanding of the quantitative parameters and mode of action of miRNAs is required, which is, however, hindered by the complexity of natural systems. By using principles of synthetic biology, we have constructed a platform to characterize regulatory properties of miRNAs in the model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Using this system, we observed that the level of repression by a miRNA depends on its abundance and degree of sequence complementarity to its target mRNA.

We also found that sequence complementarity between the miRNA and its target mRNA defined the mRNA’s response curve to the miRNA, and that the mode of action of a fully complementary miRNA to its target was the result of a combined action of RNA slicing and RNA destabilization. We are now using this information to design further applications of miRNAs, and studying their effect in regulatory loops. This work will be used as a proof-of-concept for the engineering of miRNA-based gene circuits in higher plants.

More information about this event…

Cafe Synthetique: Biomimicry and engineering
6:00 pm18:00

Cafe Synthetique: Biomimicry and engineering

Rescheduled: This meeting was originally due to be on the 15th May, however it has unfortunately had to be changed to the 22nd May. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

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 Biomimicry and engineering, which is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems; biomimicry in architecture and manufacturing is the practice of designing buildings and products that simulate or co-opt processes that occur in nature. 

We have two excellent speakers whose work focuses on the use of Biomimicry and engineering.  

Free bar snacks and good conversation provided!


Talks and speakers

"Learning from photonic nanostructures in plants: how disorder can be a feature"
Tobias Wenzel,
Winton Scholar at the Cavendish Laboratory

'Talk title TBC'

Sanjiv Sambandan

Lecturer in the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

May 21

51st ESBOC Symposium “Chemical Synthetic Biology: Self-assembly, Encapsulation and Delivery

51st ESBOC Symposium “Chemical Synthetic Biology: Self-assembly, Encapsulation and Delivery” May 19th-21st 2017

The ESBOC Symposium has been held since 1969 at Gregynog Hall (nr. Newtown, Powys), which is a beautiful venue for a scientific meeting, and focuses on a different topic at the Chemistry-Biology interface each year.  This year’s Symposium is entitled “Chemical Synthetic Biology: Self-assembly, Encapsulation and Delivery”, and will take place on 19th – 21st May 2017, starting at 3.00 pm on Friday 19th May.

The plenary speakers are: Cheryl Kerfeld (Michigan State, USA), Don Hilvert (ETH, Switzerland), Roman Jerala (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Alexander Kros (Leiden, The Netherlands), Andrew Turberfield (Oxford, UK), Martin Warren (Kent, UK), Paul Verkade (Bristol, UK), and Anna Peacock (Birmingham, UK).  There will be a poster session at the meeting, and poster presenters will make a short ‘flash’ presentation of their poster to the conference attendees.

Registration for the 51st ESBOC Symposium is via the ESBOC web-site: http://www.esboc.org.uk

The cost of registration is £350 for academic participants (£270 for PhD students), £495 for industrial participants, which includes all accommodation and meals at Gregynog.

9:00 am09:00

Norwich Single Cell Symposium

  • Earlham Institute (EI)

A day of talks and discussion on the development and application of new technologies to decode life at the single cell level.

This is an Earlham Institute Event. The following information is taken from their website where you can also register for this event: http://www.earlham.ac.uk/norwich-single-cell-symposium

Developments in single cell genomics technologies have enabled the dissection of biological processes in unprecedented detail, with broad ranging applications in the study of microbial genomics as well as plant and human health and disease. Technologies enabling the analysis of 100s-1000s of single cells in individual experiments are becoming routine, and the diversity of techniques available to analyse the genomes, epigenomes and transcriptomes of single cells continues to increase at pace.

The Norwich Single Cell Symposium aims to bring researchers curious about single cell genomics together with external speakers presenting advanced single cell research, to highlight the developing single cell capabilities available at Earlham Institute and to act as a platform to catalyse future development and application of single cell genomics approaches in the region.

This one-day event will feature talks from external and internal speakers, covering topics including:

  • Technology development in Single Cell Genomics
  • Single Cell Genomics in Developmental Biology
  • Single Cell Genomics in Health and Disease
  • Applications of Single Cell Genomics in Plant Sciences
  • Analysis of Single Cell Genomics Data
Science Makers: Colour - science and senses
12:00 pm12:00

Science Makers: Colour - science and senses

  • Cambridge Makespace

RSVP here >>

This month Science Makers be looking a colour - measuring it, creating it and being creative with it. There will also be a special activity session for children aged 8+, so feel free to bring your child(ren)!*

Science Makers is a monthly event to discuss and build low-cost, DIY and open hardware for science and education. All are welcome for the talks, making or both!

There will also be an introduction to the Biomaker Challenge and a chance to discuss forming teams and proposals.


  • Dr Gareth Rees on sensing plant spectra in the Arctic and artistic collaborations around colour.
  • Prof Jim Haseloff on biological pigments and coloured proteins. 
  • Olimpia Onelli on structural colour in G. Viridula beetles and biomimetics.
  • Jeffrey Grey on Cambridge Display Technology's printed organic LEDs and sensors for portable testing.
  • Praveen Teleti and Sophie Weeks on protoyping low-cost color sensors. 


  • How to set up an Arduino and program a sensor
  • How LEDs and colour sensors works  


  • Build an open source colorimeter
  • Android-based colour sensing using mobile phone cameras 
  • Put together a spectrometer
  • Children's making activity TBC 


  • 12:00 - Arrival and introductions
  • 12:15 - Talks and discussion
  • 13:30 - Pizza (£4 suggested donation)
  • 14:00 - Making!


* Children must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.

Apr 6

SynBioBeta London 2017

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

10:00 am10:00

Synthetic Biology for the Senses at Cambridge Science Festival

  • Downing Site

Plants and microbes make a wonderful variety of colours, scents, tastes and textures. OpenPlant is teaming up with the SAW Trust and Cambridge Synthetic Biology SRI to run Synthetic Biology for the Senses at the Cambridge Science Festival, an active and crafty stand where visitors can discover transcription and translation with our friendly robot, learn about the principles behind synthetic biology and how it is applied to make pigments, perfumes and flavorings, and create a synthetic flower to take home.

Come down and join the fun!

Cambridge and Norwich SynBio scientists willing to volunteer at the stand for a couple of hours, please contact me at colette.matthewman@jic.ac.uk

Nicotiana benthamiana by Aymeric Leveau (John Innes Centre) Shared on Norwich Research Park Image Library under CC BY 4.0

Nicotiana benthamiana by Aymeric Leveau (John Innes Centre)
Shared on Norwich Research Park Image Library under CC BY 4.0

Mar 17

Cell-free workshop

Hands-on workshop for the use of cell-free expression systems, funded by the University of Cambridge Synthetic Biology SRI. Two days of practical events and symposia. Invited speakers: Keith Pardee (University of Toronto) and Richard Kelwick (Imperial College). Events will be held at the University of Cambridge.

6:00 pm18:00

Café Synthetique

  • Panton Arms
Café Synthetique at the Panton Arms, Cambridge

Café Synthetique at the Panton Arms, Cambridge

Café Synthetique is the monthly meetup for the Cambridge synthetic biology community with informal talks, discussion and pub snacks. This month's theme is Biology as Technology. This months theme will focus on how biology is used as technology, with a particular focus on how we have and will continue to shape plant crops species. We have two excellent speakers whose work focuses on how technology has been and will be used to modify genes both for use as research tools in genetics and evolutionary biology, and also as a means of plant breeding. Free bar snacks and good conversation provided!

Biology as Technology: An Unexpected History of Innovation in Living Things
Dr Helen Anne-Curry, Department of History and Philosophy of Science.
Helen's current research considers the history of global conservation, in particular efforts made to preserve the genetic diversity of agricultural crop species through the practice of seed banking.

Breeding technology for better crops
Dr Alison Bentley, NIAB.
Alison has worked on a range of projects within NIAB’s flagship wheat pre-breeding programme, including research on characterising flowering time response and the exploitation of novel genetic diversity and genomics tools for wheat improvement. She has a strong interest in the genotype x environment interactions controlling complex traits and in the application of genomics in the breeding of high yielding, climate resilient cereals.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

Panton Arms, Panton Street, Cambridge

8:00 pm20:00

Build a Biomakespace

  • Bay 13, Cambridge Biomedical Campus

A weekly meeting to plan for establishing a Biomakespace at the old MRC-LMB.

All welcome to discuss the space and what to put in it - particularly if you are keen to volunteer to help make it happen! 

How to find the Biomakespace
From the Addenbrookes roundabout head towards the hospital main entrance, on the right hand side at the zebra crossing you will see signs for IdeaSpace, follow these to the door at the bottom of the steps heading down from the road (street view - steps are to the right).
Call 07787445330 from the door, we will keep an eye out for people as well.

Volunteer with us
We particularly need people join the:
• Communications and Fundraising Team
• Lab Design Team
• Training and Outreach Team
• Governance Team

If you would like experience of founding and running a novel interdisciplinary biology innovation space in Cambridge then contact info@biomake.space and visit http://biomake.space for more information.