I'm a theoretical physicist interested in engineering new forms of life for useful disruptive purposes. In particular, the de novo engineering of living systems able to do complex tasks. This is attempted through two research lines (which I also want to develop in the private sector):
De novo antimicrobials a la carte
The de novo engineering of viral particles is closely related to the origin of life and of living complexity. As the simplest possible goal, we are creating a synthetic virus infecting bacteria (bacteriophage) with the capability of being able to kill whatever nasty bacteria we want. This provides a new strategy to design and construct antibiotics without having to ever cultivate the target pathogen. If this works then we will be opening the door to the automated design of antibiotics. Usually antibiotics have been obtained by trial and error (screening natural samples or screening libraries of random molecules), always relying in culturing the target bacterium.
Imagine receiving an email with the genomic sequence of a nasty antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Using only this information, we propose to engineer in a few weeks therapeutics that would not only eliminate the bacteria but also any resistant mutant to them. Our own evidence indicates that this could work.
Living Artificial Intelligence
I'm interested in the de novo emergence of intelligence, languages, life, etc One task we have succeeded recently is to add new genes to a bacterium to make it able to learn algorithms, which we are finishing a publication where we demonstrate for the first time that E. coli bacteria can learn to be an expert at the game of tic-tac-toe. We use reinforcement learning but it is all living, no computers involved in the learning.
We work at the interface of experimental molecular biology, combinatorial optimisation, microfluidics, directed evolution and 3D printing. If you firmly believe that synthetic viral therapy will be the disruptive technology that will revolutionise medicine, maybe you'd like to join us in beautiful Warwick.
If you are interested to help (participating in the research, funding the research, etc) please contact me.
We are looking for strongly motivated and talented people willing to contribute developing a disruptive methodology to create new molecules and phages different to anything known ("de novo"). In particular, we aim to create a new generation of personalized antimicrobials based on synthetic phages.