Synthetic biology approaches to designer-stem-cell-based therapies

This program develops experimental and computational approaches to apply engineering design and analysis principles to study existing biological cellular systems and to create new cellular systems with user-defined properties and functions. The resulting capabilities and technologies are applied in the context of diabetes, cardiac hypertrophy, cancer metastasis and malaria, and leveraging these new approaches to innovate biology education to encourage STEM training in future biomedical scientists.


  • High-resolution imaging and visualisation of cellular architecture.
  • Technologies for rapid generation of CAD models of cells from microscopy data.
  • Platform for simulation of cellular life: biochemistry, electrophysiology, mechanobiology, cell architectural remodeling.
  • Bond-graph approaches to designing new cell functions.
  • Cellular mechanical testing probes: micropipette assays, microfluidics, micropillars.
  • Chemical signalling probes: Ca2+ dynamics, mitochondrial energetic.


Synthetic biology is in its infancy and is a rapidly growing field. Present research is targeted at manipulating cellular components to modify cell mechanics/cell growth/cellular energy production. Future applications range from designer stem cell-based therapies to new cell systems with optimised energy production capabilities. There is also growing interest in re-engineering bacteria and viruses into synthetic microbes to better detect and treat pathogens and to function as vehicles for vaccine delivery.

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Program leader

Dr Vijay Rajagopal