Who We Are
Academic Lead : Professor Mark Smales
Mark Smales is the Academic Lead for Synthetic Biology within Kent and is currently Professor of Industrial Biotechnology in the School of Biosciences. The group headed by Mark has a number of on-going projects whose objectives are to further advance our understanding of biotechnological products and processes at the fundamental biological or chemical level to enable their manipulation and control for improved biotherapeutic recombinant protein yields and quality. His group in particular focusses upon the investigation of cultured mammalian cells for the purposes of producing biotherapeutic proteins for the treatment of disease and for the generation of diagnostics. This includes upstream and downstream bioprocessing and embracing and utilising novel technologies such as genome editing to engineering cell systems and tune them for the desired use. Mark is Director of the Centre for Molecular Processing and a member of the Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology Research Group.
Research Fellow : Dr Chieh Hsu
Chieh Hsu completed his undergraduate studies in National Taiwan University in 2002. He continued his postgraduate studies in the Molecular Biology Program, University of Goettingen, Germany, and received MSc in Biochemistry mentored by Dr Jobst Landgrebe (2004-2006). He developed a strong interest in cell biology and contributed to the early findings in exosome biogenesis during his PhD curriculum in Prof Mikael Simons' lab at the Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine (2006-2010). Later he broadened his research interest into molecular systems biology. He joined Prof Attila Becskei's group in University of Zurich (2010-2011) and University of Basel (Biozentrum, 2011-2015), Switzerland and was awarded the long-term fellowship from Human Frontier Science Program (2011-2014) to study system stability, cellular memory, and stochastic/deterministic factors in transcriptional auto-regulatory circuits. Chieh joined Kent’s School of Biosciences as the Eastern ARC Research Fellow in synthetic biology in March 2015. He aims to bridge disciplines for quantitative studies on intracellular membrane trafficking.
Our Doctoral Students
Sarah Blackburn joined Kent in October 2015. Working under the supervision of Dr Gary Robinson (University of Kent) and Professor Simon Carding (UEA), Sarah’s research focuses on Outer Membrane Vesicle (OMV) synthesis in microorganisms. The aims of the project are to gain a fundamental understanding into the process of vesiculation as well as further understanding into cross-species signalling using OMVs. The project will also involve the development of new tools and protocols for engineered OMVs and their analysis. The final aim is to induce targeted expression of recombinant proteins and other cargo for inclusion and delivery in OMVs.
Working under the supervision of Professor Martin Warren (University of Kent), Naziyat Khan’s research focuses on investigating Vitamin B12 biosynthesis and transport. In humans, a B12 deficiency can cause numerous disease states, such as, pernicious anaemia. The fundamental aim of this project is to gain a greater understanding of how the vitamin is delivered from its site of synthesis (in prokaryotes) to various eukaryotic subcellular compartments.
Rukmini Jonnalagadda's thesis is titled "Construction of a synthetic toolkit to study positive feedback loops in membrane protein domain formation". She is supervised by Dr Chieh Hsu.