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Synthetic Biology UK 2019

Synthetic Biology UK: 9-10 December 2019, University of Warwick

Synthetic biology is a convergence of multiple fields that can generate both improved understanding of biological systems as well as cutting-edge biotechnology. The establishment of six UK centres focused on synthetic biology has significantly enhanced growth of this area, and there is accordingly a sizeable community in this country working on a diversity of projects. In addition, there are many companies in the biotech and pharma sectors that are incorporating synthetic biology technologies into their R&D programmes. In response to this growth, the community initiated a series of annual SBUK conferences. These have so far been hosted by the respective Synthetic Biology Research Centres at Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol.

Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre (WISB) pursues a diverse and distinctive research programme of synthetic biology research, with strengths in both experimental and computational aspects. We have strong links to other international synthetic biology centres, including in the USA, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, China and Brazil as well as to multiple international companies.

The fourth SBUK, to be held on Warwick campus, will feature a wide range of themes presented by colleagues from the UK and from abroad. It will appeal to researchers from many other fields because of the state-of-the-art technologies and wide range of organisms and challenges that will be discussed. Colleagues are encouraged to look at the programme and to consider joining us at what is expected to be an exciting and informative event.

Find out more and register

Fri 22 Nov 2019, 12:18 | Tags: Biotechnology Conference Faculty of Science

UK Natural Light Growing Centre opened for business at Warwick’s Innovation Campus in Warwickshire

Ribbon cutting to open the new NLG centreAgri-tech innovation centre Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and its greenhouse innovation partner RIPE Building Services, have officially opened their new high-tech greenhouse facility at the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus.

The structure, named the Natural Light Growing (NLG) Centre, has been designed and built by RIPE Building Services, partnered by CHAP with £500,000 funding from Innovate UK. It was officially opened by Professor Janet Bainbridge OBE.

Press release

Mon 11 Nov 2019, 12:10 | Tags: Faculty of Science

Academic job opportunity: Associate Professor or Professor of Infection Microbiology

Applications are invited for an Associate Professor or Professor of Infection Microbiology to join our vibrant research and teaching community in the School of Life Sciences.

We particularly encourage applications from candidates who complement existing strengths in the School and who will lead research in the areas of laboratory based antimicrobial resistance and anti-infective discovery, the human microbiome, host-pathogen interactions and immunology, microbial genetics and chemical biology approaches to address human and animal infection.

Job description


Over £20 million government award marks Midlands’ bio-economy strengths

A consortium of Midlands research-active universities has just been awarded research studentships worth over £20 million to build on the Midlands’ already significant bio-economy and success in life sciences and agricultural research.

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership 2020 (MIBTP2020) is led by the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick and brings together a number of other Warwick research departments, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, Aston University and Harper Adams University. The funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council arm of the Government’s UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding organisation. This award will be matched by the universities in the partnership to fund a total of 245 doctoral students (59 per year) over the next 5 years.

Press release


Seed collection conserves genetic diversity of vegetables

Listen to Dr Charlotte Allender discuss the need to conserve the genetic diversity of vegetables, and how this is being done at the University of Warwick's seed bank facility.

Radio discussion (28 Sept 2019)

The Warwick Genetic Resources Unit houses the UK Vegetable Genebank, a globally significant collection of around 14,000 seed samples of a range of vegetable crops.


Great Wall Symposium 2019

Group photo of delegates attending the Great Wall Symposium

Bacterial cell biology researchers from across the world gathered at The Pasteur institute in Paris at the end of September to attend the 6th biennial Great Wall symposium organised by Professor David Roper and Professor Ivo Boneca (Pasteur). This three day meeting on all aspects of bacterial cell wall biosynthesis was attended by just under 200 interdisciplinary researchers on all aspects of bacterial cell wall microbiology.

Dr Adrian Lloyd from SLS provided an invited talk on his recently submitted research on 'Substrate and stereochemical control of cell wall crosslinking by E. coli PBP1B' as well as a posters from a number of Warwick PhD students from SLS and WMS.


Tracking Alzheimer’s disease pathology in single neuronal cells

Researchers have developed a superior method to describe the very earliest effects that Alzheimer’s Disease proteins have on the properties of brain cells.

In the paper ‘Introduction of Tau oligomers into cortical neurons alters action potential dynamics and disrupts synaptic transmission and plasticity’ published in the journal eNeuro. Researchers directly identify new therapeutic targets and describe a new standard for future research activity.

Thu 26 Sep 2019, 16:51 | Tags: Biomedical Science Press Release Faculty of Science

How close are we to there being a British Baked Bean?

Prof Eric Holub being interviewed by the BBCDr David Gregory-Kumar from BBC Midlands Today reports on the harvest of the first full size field of a new variety of haricot bean bred by Professor Eric Holub for the UK's climate. Watch the report and read the press release

Thu 19 Sep 2019, 10:37 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science TV/Radio Faculty of Science

First milestone for IBRB

The Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB) will be a new state-of-the-art research building on the Gibbet Hill campus that will bring together up to 300 biomedical researchers from across the School of Life Sciences and Warwick Medical School to fight human diseases.

Wed 18 Sep 2019, 10:44 | Tags: Biomedical Science Biotechnology Faculty of Science IBRB

Videos from First Labcut Workshop

Labcut logoFunded by the Wellcome Trust and Warwick Quantitative Biomedicine Programme (WQBP), LabCut is a science film workshop run by SynBio CDT PhD students Cansu Kuey, Charlotte Gruender and Patrick Capel. The five films created during the inaugural workshop are now available to be viewed and will be screened during the British Science Festival in September. Find out more


National livestock movement bans may prove economically damaging

CowNew research led by Dr Mike Tildesley has pioneered an economic perspective on controlling livestock diseases. Focusing on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), bovine TB (bTB) and bluetongue virus (BTV), the researchers draw striking conclusions about the role of movement bans in controlling an outbreak.

Press Release


New awards target breakthrough technologies to enhance food security

A recent collaboration between the BBSRC, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is helping researchers potentially advance technology that brings more security to crop agriculture of the future. Dr Stephen Jackson and Dr Jose Gutierrez-Marcos are amongst those receiving funding.

Press release


Phenom UK 2019

On Monday 22 July, researchers from the University of Sheffield, Rothamsted Research and the University of Nottingham attended a networking event at the University of Warwick Wellesbourne campus. The event was organised by Dr Beatriz Lagunas and sponsored by Phenom UK (‘Technology Touching Life programme funded jointly by BBSRC/EPSRC/MRC). In the morning, visitors enjoyed a guided tour around the field research facility including the pathogen quarantine fields, insect pest trial area, the low nutrient field, and the main rotation fields for irrigated trials. In the afternoon, a round table discussion focused on the challenges of field-based phenotyping.

The breadth of expertise amongst participants allowed discussion of ideas for relating aerial spectral imaging of the crop canopy with below-ground differences in soil nutrient/root/microbe interactions. The consensus was that pilot data is needed in a specific crop from small-scale controlled experiments to identify disease signature wavelengths and then move to field phenotyping based, for example using drone-based imaging in collaboration with both the University of Sheffield and Rothamsted Research. The PhenomUK website will provide a useful forum for further discussions. All Warwick people interested in following up the discussions are encouraged to do it through the Plant & Crop Science Theme and to register at the Phenom UK website.

Phenom UK participants standing in a field of haricot beans

Phenom UK networking visit attendants standing in a field of haricot beans (from left to right):
Craig Sturrock (U. of Nottingham), Patrick Schäfer (U. of Warwick), Rob Lillywhite (U. of Warwick), Stephen A. Rolfe (U. of Sheffield), Graham Teakle (U. of Warwick), Gabriel Castrillo (U. of Nottingham), John Clarkson (U. of Warwick), Beatriz Lagunas (U. of Warwick), Guilhem Reyt (U. of Nottingham), Sally Mann (U. of Warwick), Malcolm Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research), Alexander McCormack (U. of Warwick), Tim Mauchline (Rothamsted Research), Rosemary Collier (U. of Warwick), Joost H.M. Stassen (U. of Sheffield), Rory Hayden (U. of Nottingham) and Eric Holub (U. of Warwick).


A cure for the common cold?

Did you know that SLS researchers have been leading work to find cures for the common cold and influenza?

Listen as Professor Nigel Dimmock discusses his career and his new antiviral research on the BBC.

Download or listen online bbc.in/2GA7W74


When and how did we first start to domesticate wild plants?

Professor Robin Allaby talks to CrowdScience on the BBC World Service and explains all.

Listen to bbc.in/2JV7jpV (Interview starts at approx 5:28).


SLS Graduation 2019

Graduation 2019On Tuesday 16 July, graduands from the School of Life Sciences attended the Summer Graduation Ceremony held in Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre. The Head of School, Professor Lorenzo Frigerio, academic tutors and other staff also attended the ceremony. Staff gathered afterwards to meet the graduates, their friends and family, at a buffet lunch in the Rootes Building. Students were congratulated on their achievements and class prizes were awarded.

We wish our graduates all the best as they embark on the next stage of their careers.


Life Sciences welcomes the next generation of scientists

Students working in the lab as part of Headstart courseThis week the School of Life Sciences is welcoming students from across the UK as part of the 2019 Headstart Programme.

Taking place at the Gibbet Hill campus 7– 11 July, the Headstart course provides a university taster course for 16-17 year olds with the opportunity to explore the different biological disciplines taught within the School of Life Sciences. The Life Sciences course enables students to gain experience at a prestigious university prior to making UCAS applications, showing them the different courses and career paths available.

Across the week, students will take part in a wide range of hands-on laboratory experiments and lectures including physiology, microbiology, epidemiology and molecular biology.

Administered by the EDT (Engineering Development Trust), a charitable trust, Headstart provides hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities and taster courses to encourage young people into technology-based careers.

Discussing the summer school’s programme Dr Daniel Franklin, Senior Teaching Fellow and summer school organiser, said ‘The students are experiencing all of the successful teaching elements of our degrees, lectures, labs and importantly one of our excellent tutorials. It is very satisfying to see that they are embracing the different subjects being covered, and clear that the students are scientifically curious. I am really pleased that some of our excellent teaching is giving the students a rewarding time.’

We hope to inspire students to study life sciences at university in the future.

At Warwick we offer:


Warwick Award Winners 2019

Congratulations to our University Staff Award winners:

WAPTE Winner
Dr Leanne Williams won the 2019 Warwick Award for Personal Tutoring Excellence (WAPTE). This is a new award that recognises staff who have made an outstanding contribution to the support of students through the personal tutoring system. Leanne already holds a Warwick award for teaching excellence and has been doing amazing work supporting our students over the years.

WATE Winner
Dr Rebecca Freeman won a Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence (WATE). Beccy has made an enormous difference to SLS by radically changing our approach to teaching and the students’ approach to learning. She has engaged students as collaborators in the development of our curricula and helped us develop rigorous yet innovative and flexible teaching approaches, which have now become examples of best practice for the University.

Public Engagement Contribution
Professor Nick Dale won the Public Engagement Contribution award. Nick explains "the complexities of his subject, the brain, in a way that drives interest from those who know something and a fascination from others who know less".

Supporting Student Employability
David Molyneux, SLS Senior Careers Advisor, won the award for Supporting Student Employability. David is described "As a colleague, he is unstinting in his devotion. He is giving, generous of spirit and passionately cares about students and their employability".

Wed 03 Jul 2019, 16:07 | Tags: Knowledge Transfer Teaching Study Award Faculty of Science

Thesis Prize Winners

Every year, the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the School of Life Sciences, jointly run a PhD Thesis Prize competition with prizes provided by each. Supervisors are invited to put forward students for consideration.

This year, the winner of the Faculty Thesis Prize is Dr Fábio Henrique dos Santos Rodrigues, who did his PhD with Prof John McCarthy. The thesis title is 'Targeting trypanosomatid translation factor interactions'. The work has been published in a joint first author paper in Nucleic Acids Research.

The winner of the School of Life Sciences Thesis Prize is Dr Jenny Goodman, who did her PhD with Dr Alex Jones. Jenny's thesis is entitled 'The role of Feronia in regulating growth and development in Arabidopsis Thaliana roots'. A methods paper and a middle author paper have already come from the PhD, and two first author papers – including one for PNAS – are in process.


Warwick Ranked in UK Top 10 and World Top 100 by QS

The University of Warwick has been named as one of the UK’s top ten, and one of the world’s top 100, universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Press Release


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