UK/EU students

PhD Studentship in Computing Science - Verification of Portable Synthetic Biocircuits (EPSRC Portabolomics)

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553 (full award).

Number of awards


Start date and duration

January 2018 for three years

Application closing date

27 October 2017


The vision of the Portabolomics project is to bring forth a breakthrough in Synthetic Biology that will enable the development of portable biocircuits across chassis. For example, a novel antibiotic pathway engineered in a laboratory strain (e.g., E. coli), could be ported to a proprietary industrial strain for mass production (e.g., Bacillus spp) without substantial re-engineering. In Information Technology, the Java virtual machine has enabled the reuse and portability of software across different operating systems and hardware platforms. Likewise, our approach represents a true breakthrough in practical biological circuit reuse and portability for living organisms.

Our vision is centred on the development of a new in vivo middleware architecture, called a ‘bio-adaptor’, that will provide a standardised interface to the cell’s essential biological services (e.g., replication, transcription, and translation). A biocircuit engineered within a chassis that implements the Portabolomics bio-adaptor will run as-it-is on another chassis that adheres to the same interface. This vision requires substantial innovation in formal verification of biocircuits before they are actually built in the laboratory.

This PhD project will advance our world-leading model checking technologies for both verifying and designing biocircuits that are certifiably compliant with the bio-adaptor. This challenge includes the following research strands:


School of Computing Science, Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Paolo Zuliani, School of Computing Science

Eligibility Criteria

The successful candidate should have an excellent first degree in, e.g., computer science, mathematics, or physics. Knowledge of biology is not a prerequisite, since the ICOS group offers plentiful learning opportunities via their own MSc modules, weekly research seminars, etc.

This award is eligible for UK/EU candidates only.

How to apply

You must apply through the University's online postgraduate application form. Only mandatory fields need to be completed.  However, you will need to include the following information:


For further details, please email Dr Paolo Zuliani.