Professor Susan Rosser awarded Royal Academy of Engineering’s Chair in Emerging Technologies
Susan Rosser, Professor of Synthetic Biology, a joint appointment between the School of Biological Sciences and School of Engineering, is the recipient of a prestigious Chair in Emerging Technologies, designed to support global research visionaries.
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Chair in Emerging Technologies scheme provides research visionaries with support in developing technologies with high potential to deliver economic and social benefit to the UK.
Susan Rosser is Director of the Edinburgh Mammalian Synthetic Biology Research Centre and Co-director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry for DNA synthesis and assembly.
She previously held a prestigious EPSRC Leadership Fellowship in Synthetic Biology.
Synthetic biology aims to design and engineer biologically based parts, new devices and systems as well as redesigning existing, natural biological systems.
Her ambitious project aims to genetically engineer cells that can simultaneously combine diagnosis of a disease with a targeted treatment that prevents disease progression or provides a cure.
Developing implantable or circulating ‘surveillance’ cells that recognize and process the information associated with disease related changes would allow earlier detection.
The disease could be treated before it develops or progresses by programming the cells to produce a therapeutic molecule, such as an antibody or drug.
The advantage of this approach is that the treatment would be administered at the correct location, at the right dosage, providing a more personalised, customised treatment.
Most diseases are treated with “one size fits all” therapies, such as drugs, which have a broad action and sometimes cause unintended side effects through their effects on other parts of the body.
Current treatments often don’t reflect differences between individual patients or constantly changing disease states mean that the timing, location and dosage is often far from ideal.
The Royal Academy of Engineering will provide funding of £1.3M for Professor Rosser to focus full-time for 10 years on this research, development and exploitation work.
The University of Edinburgh was the only institution to be awarded multiple Chairs, being successful in two of the ten available.
I am delighted and honoured that the Royal Academy of Engineering has given me this fantastic opportunity to fully focus on this research programme that I hope will provide new ways of diagnosing and treating disease allowing people to stay healthier for longer.