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Thomas E Gorochowski awarded prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship

6 July 2017

Thomas E Gorochowski awarded prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Thomas E Gorochowski
Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Dr Thomas Gorochowski has been awarded a prestigious five-year Royal Society University Research Fellowship. This will enable Tom to establish an independent research group at the University of Bristol that will focus on better understanding the inner workings and evolution of synthetic genetic circuits.
Tom was recruited to Bristol in 2015 as the first of two Fellows in Synthetic Biology to be appointed as part of the BrisSynBio award. Tom joined BrisSynBio following a postdoctoral stay at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he helped establish sequencing and analysis pipelines for the newly founded MIT-Broad Foundry for Synthetic Biology.
In the same way that electronic circuits control the functionality of your latest gadget, living cells have encoded in their DNA “genetic circuits” that precisely regulate their behaviours. An ability to develop “synthetic” man-made genetic circuits that implement our own functions would enable us to harness the power of biology to tackle many pressing global issues – from the sustainable production of valuable chemicals and materials, to completely new forms of medicine. While the DNA encoding such circuits can now be easily synthesised, we struggle to predict how these circuits will function when placed within living cells. This makes their rational engineering a major challenge and means that it can take months or even years to construct a fully working system.

Tom’s research aims to directly address this problem. Much like how a mechanic opens the bonnet of a car to observe what each part of an engine is doing, Tom will develop novel sequencing technologies to probe how each part making up a genetic circuit is functioning and combine this with mathematical models to accurately predict how new systems will perform before they are built. This will provide the most detailed view of synthetic genetic circuits to date, forming a valuable toolbox for bioengineers, and enabling the rapid design of genetic systems with our own desired behaviours.

About BrisSynBio and the Bristol BioDesign Institute: BrisSynBio is a multi-disciplinary research centre that focuses on the biomolecular design and engineering aspects of synthetic biology, and has been established as one of six Synthetic Biology Research Centres in the UK. BrisSynBio is funded predominantly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and has a number of other academic, industrial and public-facing partners.
BrisSynBio is part of the Bristol BioDesign Institute, one of only seven Specialist Research Institutes at the University of Bristol. These are areas where the university aims to be world leading and will be the focus of future investment and strategic activities:
BrisSynBio: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/brissynbio/
Bristol BioDesign Institute: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/research/institutes/biodesign/.
BBSRC: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/
EPSRC: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/

 

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