Rm. 2.36, Michael Swann building
Max Born Crescent
- Post code
- EH9 3BF
2016 Lecturer in Synthetic Biology, University of Edinburgh, School of Biological Sciences
2009-2016 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Medical School
2006-2009 Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh
2005 Research Assistant, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
2001-2005 PhD Microbiology, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
2001 MPhil Organic Chemistry, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
1999-2000 Research Assistant, Aventis Cropscience, Lyon, France
The Microbial World 2 ( year 2, lecturer)
Patterning in Development (Hons, lecturer)
MSc Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology:
- Tools for Synthetic Biology (course organiser)
- The Origins of Synthetic Biology (course organiser)
- Applications of Synthetic Biology (lecturer)
- iGEM OG team (co-/supervisor)
Open to PhD supervision enquiries?
Areas of interest for supervision
PhD project currently advertised:
(Prospective candidates can contact me all year round)
Current PhD students supervised
Mammalian synthetic biology
We aim at engineering new synthetic gene circuits in mammalian cells: sensing modules, reporting modules and actuation modules (e.g. locomotion, apoptosis). Cells endowed with these new functions can be used to sense the presence of specific stimuli in their environment and report or act upon it.
Current research interestsSynthetic communication in mammalian cells: We engineer mammalian cells with sensing (synthetic receptors) and reporting circuits to detect specific cell-cell interactions. These synthetic communication systems allow us to study interactions between specific cell types both in vitro and in vivo, shading new light on intercellular processes. Synthetic morphology & patterning: We engineer mammalian cells to self-organize into specific structures and patterns. We built a pattern generator where cells self-organize in 2-D and 3-D based on phase separation and differential adhesion, and the resulting cell arrangements resemble animal coat patterns (Cachat et al. 2016, Sci. Rep. 6: 20664). By inducing specific morphogenetic circuits from a library of synthetic genetic modules we built previously (Cachat et al. 2014, J. Biol. Eng. 8: 26), we can add complexity to this pattern. For example, we can target one of the population to selectively undergo apoptosis (Cachat et al. 2017, Eng. Biol. 1-6), or target boundary cells to undergo specific differentiation. Although differential adhesion is a mechanism naturally occurring in developing tissues, it has not been identified as a pattern-generating mechanism in animals and as such constitutes a truly synthetic road to patterning. Another genetic machine we are building uses an architecture developed in theoretical terms in the 1950s by Alan Turing: the reaction-diffusion mechanism. Depending on system parameters, engineered cells should produce spots, stripes, swirls or travelling waves of activation. As opposed to the above patterning mechanism, the reaction-diffusion mechanism has been shown to drive patterning in developing embryos, but has not yet been reproduced synthetically. Together, these approaches will create simple systems to test existing theories of morphogenesis and patterning derived from the study of animal development but difficult to test in complex embryos. These approaches will also create synthetic platforms for use in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and for the development of clinically-useful structures outside the normal developmental repertoire (Davies & Cachat 2016, Biochem. Soc. Trans. 44, 696-701).
Dual-controlled optogenetic system for the rapid down-regulation of protein levels in mammalian cells
An information-theoretic measure for patterning in epithelial tissues
Synthetic self-patterning and morphogenesis in mammalian cells: a proof-of-concept step towards synthetic tissue development.
Synthetic biology meets tissue engineering
2- and 3-dimensional synthetic large-scale de novo patterning by mammalian cells through phase separation.
A library of mammalian effector modules for synthetic morphology
Synthetic morphology: a powerful tool for future tissue engineering?
Application of synthetic biology to regenerative medicine
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4172/2155- 9538.S2-003
The Edinburgh Synthetic Morphology Project.
Multi-fragment and multi-site recombinase-mediated cassette exchange in mouse ES-cells for F0-generation mice
Synthetic Morphology – engineering cells to make designer anatomy.