Biology computes

From individual cells deciding how to differentiate during development, to social insects coordinating their actions when scavenging for food; the ability to perform complex computations and process information enables life across scales.

synthetic biology biocomputation data-centric biodesign evolution

The Biocompute Lab explores the molecular-scale mechanisms that individual cells and groups of cells use to make sense of their world. We apply tools and methods from the field of synthetic biology to create new living systems from the ground-up. By studying these artificial systems using novel techniques we are developing based on sequencing, microfluidics and computational modelling, we aim to better understand the rules governing how biological parts are best pieced together to perform useful computations. Understanding the computational architecture of cells opens new ways of reprogramming them to tackle problems spanning the sustainable production of materials to novel therapeutics. It also provides key insights into how biology controls the complex processes and structures sustaining life.

Research areas

Reprogramming biology

Biology offers many capabilities that could address the global challenges we face as a society. The Biocompute Lab is attempting to understand how to effectively reprogram biology to co-opt and install new functionalities into living systems across scales; from networks of interacting molecules, to cellular collectives, and even entire ecosystems.

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Advanced cellular analytics

Inside every cell is a complex, dynamic and sometimes mysterious environment. The Biocompute Lab is developing advanced biometrology approaches based on emerging technologies like nanopore sequencing and high-throughput fluorescence activated cell sorting to "see" and "measure" the inner workings of this typically hidden world.

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Engineering [with] evolution

Evolution is the most powerful creative force on this planet. The Biocompute Lab is exploring ways to harness and integrate evolution into new biological design workflows, as well as searching for avenues to engineer evolutionary processes themselves to create a new generation of truly self-adaptive engineered living system.

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Our research is made possible by the generous support from funders, charities and other organisations that have believed in our vision for broadening our understanding of the computational architecture of biology and engineering living substrates in new and interesting ways.

  • The Royal Society – University Research Fellowship (UF160357, RGF\EA\180024, RGF\R1\180012, RGF\EA\201020), Public Engagement Award (PEF2\180019)
  • The Alan Turing Institute – Turing Fellowship (2TF1\100241)
  • UKRIBrisSynBio Fellowship (BB/L01386X/1), Impact Acceleration Awards (EP/P511298/1)
  • EU H2020SynCrop ETN (#764591)
  • Leverhulme Trust – Research Project Grant (RPG-2019-229)
  • NVIDIA – GPU grant programme