Open Positions

Towards a robust and reproducible cell-free synthetic biology

BBSRC CASE PhD Studentship

Deadline: 11th June 2018

An area of synthetic biology that has seen significant growth in recent years is the use of cell-free expression systems. These are made by extracting the contents of living cells such that all the machinery needed to execute our own biological programs is available and can be carefully controlled. The major advantage of using a cell-free system is that it doesn’t require the slow process of growing cells and so enables the rapid testing of new biological systems in a test tube. It also offers the possibility of blending the capabilities of many different organisms by mixing extracts from multiple types of cell. Although cell-free systems speed-up development of synthetic biological systems, their use is hampered by difficulties in reliably producing cell extracts that have similar performance. The processes of extracting the contents of cells is highly variable and no methods exist to fully understand how well a particular extract is working.

This project aims to tackle these problems and support the robust scale-up of cell-free synthetic biology. In collaboration with Cell-Free Technologies, a start-up focused on the use of cell-free systems to accelerate synthetic biology, the project will explore different ways that living cells can be grown to improve the reproducibility of the extracts produced. In parallel, a large number of biological programs encoded in DNA will be constructed and used to test how well different extracts work. To measure the performance of each extract, recently developed sequencing methods will be used that allow us to peer into the inner workings of these systems and precisely understand how well our biological programs function. The project offers the opportunity to learn a broad range of interdisciplinary skills covering new bioengineering approaches and novel sequencing methods, as well as connections and exposure to the ways of working and needs of industry.

Supervisory team: Dr Thomas Gorochowski (Biological Sciences), Dr Ross Anderson (Biochemistry), Dr Thomas Meany (CEO, Cell-Free Technology). This PhD studentship is offered as part of the SWBio Doctoral Training Programme, see for further details.


Postdoctoral Researchers

Postdoctoral researchers can find support from numerous schemes.

Bristol Vice-Chancellor's Fellowships

This scheme offers an exciting opportunity for exceptional early-career researchers to advance their research careers, setup their own group at the University of Bristol. Fellowships are available across the strategic priorities of university. More details...


PhD Studentships

For students looking for PhD studentship, we recommend applying to one of the doctoral training centres based at Bristol or associated EU training networks. Any internally funded opportunities will be posted as openings above.


The EPSRC and BBSRC Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training (SynBioCDT) is a 4-year doctoral programme that offers training in the new field of Synthetic Biology, the "Engineering of Biology". This centre is a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Warwick. More details...

Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials

The Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN) is a leading centre for doctoral training offering 4-year PhD and 1 year MSc opportunities in Functional Nanomaterials. More details...

Internships and Placements


If you are an undergraduate interested in gaining some experience in engineering biology then several schemes can support summer placements in the lab. Please contact us before applying to ensure the project you have planned is suitable or to discuss other options (e.g. self-funding).

DAAD RISE Worldwide

RISE stands for Research Internships in Science and Engineering. RISE Worldwide offers summer research internships across the world to German undergraduate students with academic training in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, engineering, or a closely related field. RISE Worldwide is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. More details...

Biochemical Society Summer Studentships

The Biochemical Society offers grants for stipends of £200 per week for 6–8 weeks, and up to £1,600 in total, to support an undergraduate student to carry out a summer lab placement. The student does not need to be a member of the Society, but when ranking proposals preference will be given to student members. More details...