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Cafe Synthetique: Next Generation Synthetic Biologists

  • Panton Arms 43 Panton Street Cambridge, England, CB2 1HL United Kingdom (map)

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This month's Cafe Synthetique, curated by Bill Jia (, will feature talks from post-grads working on exciting projects related to synthetic biology.

Om Patange - PhD student in James Locke’s group at the Sainsbury Laboratory
'Escherichia coli can survive stress by noisy growth modulation'

E coli is a popular and well characterized chassis for synthetic biology. Yet, there is much left to learn about this organism. In this talk I will show how E coli use stochastic gene expression and growth rate modulation to hedge their bets against stressful events.

Václav Beránek - PhD student in Jason Chin’s group at the MRC LMB
'Expanding the genetic code in mammalian cells'
Nature makes proteins from a limited set of building blocks - the 20 canonical amino acids. Expanding this set by amino acids with new chemical and physical properties allows researchers to manipulate and study proteins in an unprecedented way. When extended to mammalian cells, genetic code expansion allows researchers to label, probe and control proteins in their native context - providing unique insights into basic biological questions - and serves as a tool to engineer new therapeutics.

Jarrod Shilts - Masters student at the Sanger Institute
'Modulating the Mutation Potential of Synthetic DNA'
Our capacity to engineer biological systems is contingent on the predictability and stability of the genetic parts used to control those systems. However, natural processes of mutation and evolution pose a fundamental limit to the long-term predictability of engineered behavior. In this talk, I will introduce a novel approach to rationally re-design synthetic DNA sequences to have lower mutagenic potential, thus mitigating the risk of unintended changes that may compromise the function or safety of genetically-encoded parts. In line with the theme of “next generation synthetic biologists”, I will also highlight how this work exemplifies the potential for student-led lab spaces to contribute to the rapidly-advancing field of synthetic biology.

Café Synthetique is the monthly meetup for the Cambridge synthetic biology community with informal talks, discussion and pub snacks. It is kindly sponsored by Cambridge Consultants (