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SynBio Fund Projects

Applications are now closed but you can still find out more about the funding scheme.

All SynBio Fund Projects 

Title Description
A piezoelectric bio-platform to image and stimulate cellular interactions To develop a novel piezoelectric platform to probe mechanobiological interactions. This pilot project serves to validate the basic process and has several key objectives. The first goal is to successfully grow a viable cell colony on the piezoelectric matrix. If that can be achieved, then we can determine whether or not the traction forces exerted by the cell culture can be detected and monitored as the culture grows.
An extended DNA recombinase toolkit for mammalian systems Identifying, screening and optimising a novel recombinase toolkit for mammalian cells.
Bio-Hackathon The Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club (CUTEC) has been running events to support young technologists for the last 13 years. This year our committee is passionate about supporting the transition from idea to prototype in biology and with this in mind we ran a Bio-Hackathon in collaboration with the London Biohackspace and with Bento Bio Works.
CamOptimus Self-contained user-friendly multi-parameter optimisation platform for non-specialist experimental biologists
CELLUWIN: 3D printing for cellulose For a feasibility study on creating 3D structures, using raw cellulose as a starting material, as a proof of principle for the use of cellulose as a modern building material.
Development of a microfluidic device for high-throughput analysis of genetic circuits in plant protoplasts. This project aims to develop a high-throughput screen for the analysis of promoter sequences driving expression of a reporter gene in plant protoplasts. We envisage this device to be applicable to a range of plant species and cell types, and by coupling it to libraries of regulatory elements identified by DNase-Seq, it will rapidly increase the rate of identifying promoters for biotechnological applications.
DIY Biolab DIY Biolab plan to build and document open hardware for molecular biology.
Engineering of self­ cloning brewer’s yeast for novel terpene profiles in beer. Engineering of self­ cloning brewer’s yeast for novel terpene profiles in beer.
Faster engineering for cyanobacteria Developing a series of plasmids and a method to rapidly increase production of cyanobacterial mutants with multiple alterations.
Flexible, low cost, live­ cell imaging platform Continued development of a flexible, low cost, live-imaging platform for long term monitoring of cell behaviour in vitro
High Performance Mechanisms for Low Cost Science Developing fluorescence and phase contrast functions in a low-cost, 3D-printed microscope and demonstrating its use in an incubator.
Interactive web­-based software for genetic circuit design This project aims to develop a rigorous design-modeling web-based tool for synthetic biology using a novel design methodology that has been recently developed in the Control Group (Engineering Department).
Novel bioluminescent reporters Finding, testing and generating optimised bioluminescent reporter vectors for use in various organisms.
Open source 3D-printed microscope Many tasks in biology require tiny, accurate motion – achieved with expensive hardware. We have used inexpensive, 3D printed parts to make high performance mechanisms for low cost science. Our best example is a microscope small and cheap enough to be left in an incubator or fume hood for days or weeks. This will enable new science, for example by observing cells as they grow in an incubator. We will improve this microscope’s imaging capabilities (adding fluorescence and phase contrast) and demonstrate its use in an incubator. We will also show that printed mechanisms can be used for other tasks, for example the mechanical manipulation of micropipettes for microinjection or patch clamping.
Organotypic cultures as tools for functional screening of drugs To identify molecules activating lineage specific transcription factors to promote Oligodenrodrocyte differentiation and develop automated software to quantify cell number and state.
Reliable IP-free system for inter-chassis transfer of the high molecular weight DNA This project aims to develop an IP-free system for transfer of the high molecular weight DNA from E. coli to M. polymorpha. This includes development of the plant-specific iBACs for the reliable transfer and integration of the high molecular weight DNA into the M. polymorpha genome. Alternative methods for interchassis DNA transfer, such as integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) will be also explored.
SynBio Hub The SynBio Hub platform will allow the scientific community to monitor, review and discover the latest developments in synthetic biology Intellectual Property (IP). The open source platform will initially track all IP being published via the US patent office (USPTO) for relevance to synthetic biology.
SynBio Student Society To establish the Cambridge University Synthetic Biology Society (CUSBS) to promote the field of synthetic biology amongst the student community and within schools in Cambridge. To continue development of OpenScope and other open technology projects.
Synthesis of novel optimised lux reporters for eukaryotic systems This project would build on our previous work identifying and optimizing bacterial luciferases from a variety of marine bacteria. We propose to generate versions of these reporters for eukaryotic systems, including the production of Nanolantern-like systems for lux luciferases.
The Green Mother Machine: a microfluidics device for cyanobacteria Optimising a microfluidic chemostat for experiments using cyanobacteria, including growth and feeding channels.

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The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, including researchers, commercial partners and external collaborators. 

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