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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/M002403/1
Title Engineering Fellowships for Growth: Development of SimCells as building blocks for synthetic biology
Status Completed
Energy Categories Renewable Energy Sources(Bio-Energy, Other bio-energy) 15%;
Not Energy Related 85%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES (Biological Sciences) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr W Huang
No email address given
Engineering Science
University of Oxford
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 November 2014
End Date 31 October 2019
Duration 60 months
Total Grant Value £843,225
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region South East
Programme NC : Engineering
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr W Huang , Engineering Science, University of Oxford (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Newcastle University (0.000%)
Project Contact , Chinese Academy of Sciences (0.000%)
Project Contact , InCelliGen Inc, USA (0.000%)
Project Contact , Perlemax Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , University of Vienna, Austria (0.000%)
Project Contact , Tata Group UK (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The vision of this Fellowship is to establish an unprecedented new bioengineering platform for synthetic biology - the SimCell (Simple and Simulated Cell) that performs advanced bioengineering functions in an easy-to-use, safe-to-handle, and reliable-to-build manner. The aim of this fellowship is to develop SimCells as programmable 'bio-robots' and establish the foundation for standardised engineering applications of SimCells. SimCells have the potential to open up a new frontier, enabling the development of new and smart materials for bioprocessing and manufacturing, bioenergy, healthcare, agriculture and environmental monitoring and protection. Unlike a living cell, a SimCell is a chromosome-free and simplified cellular bio-robot; its 'hardware' is the optimised 'shell' of a cell which enables specific cellular properties; and its 'software' is a piece of DNA which delivers the defined functions. The optimised shell and simple DNA in SimCells enables them faithfully delivering most of their energy and resources to a specific function without interference of unwanted pathways and networks in a natural cell. A SimCell is a non-dividing, biochemically active, designable and simplified agent, which can be continuously produced by engineered parent cells, but which cannot reproduce itself, making it more acceptable to public opinion than living genetically modified organisms (GMOs).The Fellowship is truly revolutionary, transforming current synthetic biology based on living cells or cell-free system by providing an intermediate building block between them and taking advantages of both. It directly addresses three of five great challenges of synthetic biology by establishing novel SimCells as predictable, simple, safe and programmable bio-robots. The application of SimCells would lead to address one of challenges in 'the third industrial revolution' - bioenergy.To demonstrate SimCells as miniature factories with high energy transfer efficiency, a bio-transformation system will be designed to produce biofuels (such as ethanol and alkanes) from H2O and CO2, mediated by SimCells and powered by electrons and sunlight. This will be built on the established synthetic pathways developed by WH's previous research and patents. The outcomes of this Fellowship will set a bioenergy benchmark to which other long-term projects will aspire, and will also create the infrastructure for a wide range of applications.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 01/12/14