Bioelectricity @ Warwick
Despite the early works of Luigi Galvani in the 18th century, the experimental inquiry into the biological systems has never fully taken an electrical viewpoint. Galvani’s, and subsequently Alessandro Volta’s, studies led to the discovery of the electrical battery and the birth of electrochemistry, but the biological thread have been largely neglected outside of neurosciences.
At Warwick, we have taken on this neglected thread and have identified biological electricity as a key research direction. In particular, we believe that electrical forces, and the ability to control them, are fundamental in organising living systems across the scales (see publications). To better understand these forces and develop means to measure and control them, we undertake an interdisciplinary approach that brings together expertise from biology, physics, engineering, and chemistry.
Our research in this area is currently conducted through several collaborative PhD and postdoctoral projects. In addition, we have recently launched a Bio Electrical Engineering (BEE) Innovation Hub with funds from a BBSRC Innovation Accelarator Award provided to the University of Warwick.
Current membership (and interest areas) in the Warwick BioElectricity group include; Munehiro Asally (electrical patterns in cellular organisation), Orkun Soyer (electrical interfaces to cells), Murray Grant (electrical signals in plants), Pat Unwin (electrobiochemical measurements), Marco Polin (electrotaxis), Rob Cross (sub-cellular electrical fields), Stefan Bon (electrical stimuli in colloidal biomaterials) and Jerome Charmet (microfluidics, organs on a chip).
BEE Innovation Hub
The Bio-Electrical Engineering (BEE) Innovation hub was established in May 2018 with funding from a BBSRC Innovation Accelerator Award to the University of Warwick. The Hub implements a structured approach to innovation, where a unique team of academics were brought together to form an innovator club. The members of this club held weekly brainstorming for 3 months to develop short research proposals for scientific implementation (over a 1/1.5 year duration), and application-oriented development (over another 1/1.5 year period).
The activities of the innovator club, including proposal development and implementation, are supported by an advisory board that includes academics, technical and managerial industrialists, funding body representatives, and investors. The club members also underwent tailored entrepreneurial training, and continue to work closely with Warwick Ventures for direction on market research and analysis around the chosen projects.
We will showcase BEE Hub activities and projects as they develop. In particular, we will hold events open by invitation to individuals and institutions coming from different sectors of industry, funding landscape, academic research, investment, and regulatory and social spheres. If you would like to be part of our BEE Forum and receive invitations to these events please contact us.
BEE Hub Innovator Club: Munehiro Asally (SLS), Murray Grant (SLS), Gabriel Meloni (Chem), Orkun Soyer (SLS), Pat Unwin (Chem), Christian Zerfass (Former member, SLS) and Stefan Bon (Chem).
BEE Hub Advisory Board: Emre Ozer (Arm), Jeremy Shears (Shell), Jim Goodchild (Syngenta), Colin Miles (BBSRC), Teuta Pilizota (Uni of Edinburgh) and Holly Smith (Green Biologics)
BEE 2021 workshop
Save the date - we hope to hold our postponed workshop on 'Academic and Industrial Opportunities in BEE' on the 25-26 January 2021.
Location: Radcliffe Conference Centre, University of Warwick, CV4 7SH.
Latest BEE Publications:
- 'Bioelectrical understanding and engineering of cell biology' by Zoe Schofield et al., and Orkun Soyer (2020). J. R. Soc Interface 17:20200013. This paper results from discussions that took place at our BEE 2019 workshop!
- 'Rapid detection of proliferative bacteria by electrical stimulation'. Edwards CLA, Malyshev D, Stratford J and Asally M, Bio-protocol (2020), 10(3): e3508.
- 'The microbiologist’s guide to membrane potential dynamics'. Jonatan Benarroch and Munehiro Asally (2020). Trends in Microbiology, 28(4):304-14.
- 'Electrical polarization enables integrative quality control during bacterial differentiation into spores'. Sirec T et al. and Asally, M. (2019). iScience 16:378-89.