Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy




Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing discipline. It builds on well-established principles of genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Synthetic biology integrates computational and engineering approaches to the design and construction of novel biological systems.

Read more about the networks we’re involved in, and our expertise.


We want to achieve a radical step-change in our ability to engineer complex multi-scaled biological systems. Three major challenges stand in the way of this:


Our detailed understanding is still limited for key aspects of the field. This is the case even for model organisms. This includes our understanding of basic physiology, biochemistry and genetics. 

We need greater understanding of the sub-cellular molecular machinery that mediates biological processes. For example:

  • transcription/translation factories
  • degradomes
  • divisomes
  • secretome

Tools and approaches

The necessary computational tools and approaches are still in their infancy

This includes Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM). These are needed for complex multi-scaled biological systems (and their constituent molecular machines).


Synthetic biology is developing rapidly. Because of this, there is a disconnect in the training of cross-disciplinary scientists at all stages. This is particularly acute at doctoral and postdoctoral levels.

Our Expertise

The Centre is based on world-class expertise across all Newcastle University's faculties.

We have world-leading expertise in:

  • computational and model-based design of synthetic systems
  • development of synthetic bacterial systems
  • core synthetic biology disciplines

Our core synthetic biology disciplines include computing science, bioinformatics, Bio CAD/CAM, engineering, responsible innovation (ELSI, ELSA) and cell biology.

Centres of excellence

We draw on expertise from existing centers of excellence at Newcastle University:

The Bioeconomy

The potential applications of synthetic biology are huge, varied and well recognised. 

We bring together leading academic experts in key areas for the commercial exploitation of synthetic biology. These areas include biofuels, bioremediation, biosensors and chemical process engineering.

We aim to build on our fundamental research into synthetic biology tools, methodologies and approaches. We are establishing a large network of industrial partners from North East England, the UK and internationally.