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Internships Overview

Internships are a great way for students to get hands-on experience of synthetic biology-related research and development and in related areas such as policy, science communication and intellectual property. The SRI can help connect students in Cambridge and local or national providers.

For potential interns

Internal Opportunities

The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative acts as a hub for synthetic biology activities at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with corporate partners, policy organisations and NGOs. We coordinate a broad set of activities exploring the implications of applying formal engineering principles to biological systems and developing novel biological functions. This stretches from development of foundational tools and technologies to exploring global policy and regulation to establishing outreach and educational activities. If you are interested in biological engineering and particularly novel forms of IP, open source technologies, regulation of emerging biotechnologies, responsible research and innovation, public engagement and related topics then we have internal opportunities:

  1. Knowledge Transfer Internships: We are investigating open source approaches to biology, from promoting off-patent technologies to developing new legal tools for material transfers to reviewing potential business models. Internships could be practical e.g. building software solutions or research-driven via literature reviews, surveys and interviews.
  2. Policy Internships: Current policy foci include topics such as gene drive, de-extinction and conservation,sustainable agriculture and the circular economy. Internships in this area would typically involve developing briefing papers and planning policy fora with key individuals and organisations.
  3. Public Engagement Internships: We are developing low-cost protocols and open educational materials for use in schools and with adult groups. Interns would lead the development, documentation and design of public engagement activities. 

We do not currently have funding for internships, but if you don't have your own source of funding (e.g. PIPS), we are happy to help seek and apply for funding with you.

External Opportunities

We also have a wide network in local companies and organisation and we're happy to facilitate links for external opportunities, in addition to advertising existing vacancies and calls on the site. 


For organisations offering internships 

The SRI advertises internships both within the University and at external institutes and companies:

  • directly through our website, newsletter and Twitter feed
  • specifically to BBSRC-DTP students to undertake their funded PIPS internship (more info)
  • via other means such as the University Careers Service and through the Cambridge University Synthetic Biology Society.

The SRI can help connect you to a pool of bright, talented and academically excellent undergraduates and graduates at the University of Cambridge with an interest in synthetic biology. In general, internships should be paid but students occasionally have their own funding. Specifically, all BBSRC-DTP PhD students are expected to undertake a total of 3 months internship work and are funded through their studentship (more info). There are also schemes in place to help fund interns:

If you are interested in offering a synthetic biology or related placement e.g. an interdisciplinary placement that connects biology and engineering, please contact the SRI Coordinator on and we will be happy to assist.


Latest Internships

Title Description
Computational Biology Internship at Microsoft Research Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK is leading the way in applying techniques from diverse fields such as biology, machine learning, human-computer interaction, systems, security and programming languages to explore new domains of research in areas such as healthcare, cloud computing, and programming biological systems. We are looking for an intern to join us in the last of these. Our Biological Computation group in Cambridge is developing theory, methods and software for understanding and programming information processing in biological systems. Our research currently focuses on three main areas: Molecular Programming, Synthetic Biology and Stem Cell Biology. We need someone who can develop and apply computational methods to help us transform our experimental data into a mechanistic understanding of biological processes, helping create the foundations of a platform for programming biological systems. There is no closing deadline for this post. The post will be filled once suitable candidates are found so if you are interested please apply as soon as possible.
[Apply by 8 July 2018] Summer internships available! Biomakespace biology and engineering programmes Biomakespace is a not-for-profit social enterprise establishing a community laboratory for lifelong learning, curiosity driven research, entrepreneurship and public engagement at the interface of biology and engineering. We are offering 10-week paid internships in our Biology and Engineering Programmes to help build the foundations for our work and get involved with technical projects, public engagement, training and business development in this innovative environment. The successful candidate will be highly motivated and proactive with excellent communication skills and have some experience in a biology lab or engineering workshop respectively. Interests in informal science education, maker spaces, open science, DIY science and public engagement are all desirable.
[Closes 31 March 2018] EPSRC IAA Postdoctoral Placements Funding is available to allow EPSRC-funded postdocs to take up short term placements in a partner organisation in industry, the public sector or third sector (not at other Universities). The funding is intended to enable the postdoc to apply their research-based knowledge and expertise in a different context, helping the partner organisation innovate and the postdoc to gain valuable work experience.
[Closes 30 Nov 2017] PhD Internship available: BrisSynBio Innovations Officer BrisSynBio are looking for an enthusiastic individual to support some of BrisSynBio's innovation activities in 2018. They will develop, organise and participate in the BrisSynBio 4-Day More Business Acumen (MBA) course
Cambridge Consultant Synthetic Biology PhD Studentship Cambridge Consultants is building an exciting new business in biotechnology, particularly synthetic biology. They’re working to bring together biology, chemistry and engineering to design and build engineered biological systems. As part of this mission, they're looking for a bright, motivated PhD student to join the team on an internship.
[Closes 19 May 2017] Biomaker Challenge Coordinator - 10 week summer placement The Biomaker Challenge is a four-month interdisciplinary programme with multiple teams building low-cost sensors and instruments for biology, co-organised by OpenPlant, the Synthetic Biology SRI and CamBridgeSens. We are looking for a coordinator for 10 weeks Jun-Sep 2017 to take responsibility for supporting the participating teams and managing online communications and social media.
[Closes 20 Apr 2017] FORCE11 Communications Fellows 2017-2018 Call For Applicants FORCE11 is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that has arisen organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. It is seeking applications from individuals who will implement the communication needs of the community.
[Closes March 2016] Internship: Interdisciplinary Research Project on plant communication and signaling This summer Microsoft Research offer a 12 week long internship to a Graduate/PhD student that is interested in taking part in an interdisciplinary research project that will focus on plant communication and signaling in plants. [Deadline March 2016]

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