Challenging Misconceptions

What is synthetic biology? And what are the implications for the future? WISB is dedicated to inspiring others with what synthetic biology is capable of, and what developments we can expect to see within our lifetimes. We work with a wide range of audiences from a wide range of backgrounds.

The Benefit of Synthetic Biology Research to Society

Synthetic biology is identified as one of the ‘Eight Great Technologies’ for the UK (Government Industrial Strategy 2012)  that support UK science strengths and business capabilities.

In collaboration with industrial partners, WISB researchers aim to maximise opportunities for industrial translation of research in the following key areas:

  • Healthcare: Pharmaceuticals
  • Healthcare: Treatments for disease
  • Industry: Commodity chemicals
  • Environmental: Biodegradation and Bioremediation
  • Food Security: Crop Production

Synthetic biology also generates important insight into fundamental principles underpinning the operation of living systems. For example, by modifying the noise characteristics of gene expression systems, we are learning about the role of stochasticity in the evolution of life. This very same knowledge also informs the design of synthetic systems utilized in our applied Research Themes.

Image Source: UK Government’s Eight great technologies: Infographics (accessed from:

Video Clip: What is Synthetic Biology?

 WISB Co-Directors, Orkun Soyer and Declan Bates, talk about synthetic biology and its potential to be a significant driver for UK business. This short film was commissioned by the venture capital fund Rainbow Seed Fund.

WISB Updates

Follow us on Twitter (@WISB_SynBioCtre) to keep track of the latest WISB news and our views on current synthetic biology hot-topics.

WISB Seminar Series

WISB holds seminars throughout the year.  Our seminar series includes guest presentations from leading international academics from synthetic biology and related disciplines and commercial organisations.

Seminars are held at the Gibbet Hill Campus, University of Warwick.

Get Involved

Visit our events page for details of upcoming WISB exhibitions, forums and workshops taking place at the University of Warwick campus and further afield.

WISB actively promotes science and science careers. If you are a teacher and would like to find out more about our outreach and work experience activities, please contact us.

Aurator Public Engagement Tool

Big Bang 2016

Slime Mold, Mazes and Microscopes.. 

WISB was part of the University of Warwick’s Faculty of Science stand at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, 16-19 March 2016

Held at the NEC, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits, as well careers information from Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) professionals.

Alongside University of Warwick staff and students from Physics, Life Sciences, Engineering and Chemistry, WISB members have been at the Big Bang Fair talking to children, young people, parents and teachers about the fascinating life of a slime mold..

Visitors were able to view the slime mold under a microscope and see how its external memory enables it to respond to light, heat, gravity and chemical (food) stimuli.  It’s so adept at finding food, it will even solve a maze to reach a target nutrient!

Our stand volunteers also gave out more than 100 ‘grow your own’ kits to schools so that they can set up their own experiments to test the slime mold’s external memory abilities.

WISB @ Cafe Scientifique

Five WISB Researchers were at the Leamington Spa Cafe Scientifique on Monday 16th May 2016.

This event introduced synthetic biology and its potential applications through a series of short presentations, panel discussion and questions from the audience.

Please visit the Cafe website for more details.

Panel Members(left to right opposite): Dr Sara Kalvala, Dr James Stratford, Dr Nick Lee, Dr Emmanuel de los Santos, Professor Alfonso Jaramillo

Synthetic Biology Goes Bananas in FabLab Coventry

The WISB lab went on the road in Autumn 2016 to give children from a number of local schools the chance to try their hand at synthetic biology.

WISB Researchers worked alongside FabLab Coventry, the Midlands Academy Trust, and Think Higher to deliver an interactive and engaging short-course programme that was centred on synthetic biology, related STEM subject areas, scientific techniques and principles.

Over two days, Year 10 Students took part in a series of synthetic biology experiments. Following the eau that smell protocol they used their noses to test if their E. coli had been genetically engineered to produce a banana scent. Through this work they learnt about a new frontier of research and the implications for society. They also had an opportunity to find out what University could do for them.

FabLab Coventry is a not-for-profit partnership between Coventry University, Coventry City Council, the University of Warwick, and other partners from both the private and charity sectors.

WISB has been funded by the above bodies