BESE distinguished lecture series: Professor Paul Freemont


Sunday, June 12
11:00 a.m.
Auditorium Btw 2&3 and Zoom 

Enabling the Transition to a Global Bioeconomy with Synthetic Biology – Opportunities and Challenges

By Professor Paul Freemont, Imperial College London


Synthetic biology is now an established interdisciplinary research field that aims to engineer and re-engineer biological systems for both useful applications and further our understanding of the rules of life. The field has grown rapidly over the last 20 years with major public and private investment. However, despite the enormous progress, the full promise and potential of synthetic biology has not yet been achieved. In this talk, I will describe some of the advances the field has made over the last 15 years and discuss the opportunities for transitioning to a bioeconomy through biomanufacturing.

I will introduce the importance of public-funded biofoundries in nucleating and developing the new synthetic biology industry as well as advancing the research field and providing public infrastructure for a pandemic response. Finally, I will use examples from my own research to highlight some of the opportunities and technical challenges.

About the speaker

Professor Paul Freemont is the co-founder of the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation and co-founder and co-director of the National UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology (SynbiCITE); since 2013 and Director of the London BioFoundry (since 2016) at Imperial College London. He is also currently the Head of the Section of Structural and Synthetic Biology in the new Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial. He was previously the Head of the Division of Molecular Biosciences and Centre for Structural Biology having joined Imperial from Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (now known as the Crick Research Institute) where he was a Principle Investigator and Head of the Group. In 2019, he led the establishment of the Global Biofoundry Alliance (GBA) comprising 23 institutions on four continents aimed at building and sharing open technology platforms for synthetic biology and is currently the chair of the GBA.

His recent research interests are focused on developing synthetic biology foundational tools and cell-free systems for specific applications including biosensing and metabolic engineering. He is the author of over 250 scientific publications (H-index 76) and is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Society of Medicine and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art.

He was a co-author of the British Government’s UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap and was a recent member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on synthetic biology for the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity (UN-CBD). He has also appeared regularly on radio and television broadcasts on the subject of synthetic biology and has successfully co-supervised Imperial iGEM teams since 2006.