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Synthetic Biology in Cambridge


The EPSRC has announced a new fellowship open to post-doctoral reserachers in the strategic priority area of Synthetic Biology. Applicants can apply for fellowships of up to 3 years. The fellowship includes a fully-funded salary as well as acess to facilities, training and funding for equipment, consumables, travel and subsistance.

Synthetic biology concerns the application of engineering tools and principles to the design and manufacture of biologically based parts, devices and systems that do not exist in the natural world, as well as the redesign of existing, natural biological systems. It is a rapidly developing technology with the potential to be transformational in a large number of application areas which address a diverse range of important socioeconomic challenges, eg Healthcare, Industrial Biotechnology, Novel Materials, New Computational Substrates, Bio-fuels/Energy, Bio-remediation/Clean Water, and Manufacturing.

The recently published A Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK (PDF 1.1MB) highlighted the importance of a skilled, energised and well-funded UK-wide synthetic biology community. The EPSRC will contribute to building this community by making available research fellowships to the very best researchers seeking to establish themselves and advance the new engineering discipline of synthetic biology. In particular we are looking to support fellows who adopt an interdisciplinary approach and are interested in developing synthetic biology methods based on rigorous engineering strategies. Therefore applicants should be thinking about biological systems in new ways - as ones that can be engineered to perform specific functions or new tasks. This will involve combining engineering expertise in new and novel ways with biological knowledge in order to make biological systems easier to engineer. Included here is the design and construction of synthetic cell-like structures, highly complex biological systems and biologically inspired artificial processes for example photosynthesis, Nitrogen fixation. There is no requisite requirement that researchers focus on any specific application(s), however in line with other engineering disciplines we strongly encourage researchers to consider the likely and practical end use of their proposed research.

Applicants should consider the importance of early stage dialogue with relevant stakeholders (those potentially interested in or affected by the research) on the science, legal, economic and ethical issues of their research. Engagement of this type with industry and/or the general public is widely recognised as being crucial to the success and acceptance of this new technology. Therefore, researchers are expected to establish, as appropriate, the collaborations and request the resources needed to support these activities.

To be considered against this opportunity proposals must be focused on addressing the engineering challenges of delivering synthetic biology as a mature technology.


Applicants are expected to hold a PhD by the start date of the fellowship or have equivalent research experience. There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience or whether the applicant holds a permanent academic position. Consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a non-standard career path after their primary degree. Applications are also welcomed from candidates who wish to re-establish themselves after a career break or other period of absence from active research. There are no nationality restrictions imposed by EPSRC. Fellowships can be held at any UK university or similar Higher Education Institution (HEI) that is eligible for Research Council funding. Applications are considered at anytime, with the position to start no more that a year after application.

To learn more about how to apply, see the EPRC's Fellowship Application Guide

Originally published on the EPSRC website:


Image credit: Ulisses da Paz