RAEng Chairs in Emerging Technologies
Following an international competition, Jason Reese, Regius Professor of Engineering and Susan Rosser, Professor of Synthetic Biology have been awarded prestigious Chairs in Emerging Technologies by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).
These Chairs identify global research visionaries and provide them with long-term support to lead on developing emerging technology areas with high potential to deliver economic and social benefit to the UK. The Royal Academy of Engineering will provide funding of £1.3 million to each Chair to focus full-time for 10 years on research, development and exploitation work.
Professor Jason Reese (School of Engineering) will work on a programme entitled PYRAMID which will create a platform for multiscale design, from molecules to machines.
Professor Rosser's (School of Biological Sciences and School of Engineering) programme will focus on engineering cells for combined diagnostics and therapeutics.
The University of Edinburgh was the only institution to be awarded multiple Chairs, being succesful in two of the ten available.
Professor Jason Reese's programme
For 10 years from March 2018, Professor Reese will be funded to develop a new platform technology in multi-scale simulation-driven design for industrial innovation and scientific endeavour.
He will address the shortcomings of current computational engineering and design in the development cycles of horizon technologies whose performance depends on complex interactions between the smallest constituents, right down to molecules.
Examples include: evaporative cooling nano-arrays that can handle heat fluxes comparable to the surface of the sun; desalination or wastewater filtration membranes comprising ultra-long nanotubes; and multiscale reservoir simulations for subsurface asset management.
Professor Reese will create the platform on which new technological ideas, designs and processes - operating across some 8 orders of magnitude in space, and 10 orders in time - can be tested at lower levels of cost and risk.
His aim is not only for multi-scale design to enter the product development cycles of his industry partners, but also the breakthrough of multi-scale analysis as a productive enabler of emerging technologies and scientific innovation.
This is a tremendous opportunity to propel the UK to the forefront of next-generation design for emerging technologies. I’m both delighted and humbled that the Royal Academy of Engineering have singled me out for this investment in industrial innovation and scientific endeavour
Professor Susan Rosser's programme
Synthetic biology aims to design and engineer biologically based parts, new devices and systems as well as redesigning existing, natural biological systems.
Professor Rosser's ambitious programme 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 personalized, 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.
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
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.