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Engineering Biology in Cambridge


Cafe Synthetique - Join us at the Panton Arms | Mon 3 April | 6pm

We are back on Monday 3 April with Lorenzo Di Michele, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Asst. Professor in Biotechnology,
Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.
Building synthetic cells with DNA (just not how you would expect)

Synthetic cells are artificial micro devices constructed from the bottom-up to replicate responses typically associated with live biological cells, from environmental sensing, to communication, regulated metabolism, growth and motility. By designing and building these devices we can learn about biological principles, explore possible routes for the origin of life, and lay the foundations for next-generation technological solutions in healthcare and bioprocessing.

In this seminar I will explore the concept of synthetic cell and outline our group’s vision for a platform to engineer them using nucleic acid nanotechnology. I will then discuss highlights of our research, starting from the DNA- and RNA-based materials that form the scaffolds of synthetic cells, and moving on to implementations capable of life-like functionality such as dynamic regulation of internal structure, biomolecule synthesis and storage, and communication.

Bio: Lorenzo completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in physics at the University of L'Aquila (Abruzzo, Italy) in 2010, before moving to the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge to start his PhD in soft condensed matter physics. After graduating in 2013, Lorenzo took up an Oppenheimer Early Career Research Fellowship, followed by a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship in 2016 and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2018. The following year, Lorenzo was awarded an ERC starting grant and moved to the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer, before returning to the University of Cambridge, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology in 2022. Lorenzo’s research group applies the toolkit of nucleic acid nanotechnology to designing advanced biomimetic systems, applicable as biophysical models or tackling challenges in biomedicine.


Monday, 3 April, 2023 - 18:00 to 20:00
Event location: 
Panton Arms, Cambridge