Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Professor Anil Wipat

Professor of Integrative Bioinformatics


I am a Professor of Bioinformatics at the School of Computing at Newcastle University.

I co-direct Newcastle's Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex BioSystems (ICOS) research group.


My research forms part of the larger research effort of the the ICOS research group of which I am the co-founder and co-director.

My individual team researches data integration in bioinformatics at various levels from the local integration of ‘omics’ datasets to form integrated functional networks, through to the integration of remote heterogeneous databases. We apply these data integration strategies to problems in Systems and Synthetic Biology (e.g. the Repotrial Project).

The biological applications of our research are quite diverse ranging from microbiology and metagenomics, through to the mechanisms of human genetic disease and ageing. Traditionally we have a strong interest and background in microbial genomics and functional genomics particularly for Gram-positive microorganisms such as Bacillus and relatives.

We are applying our combined expertise in bioinformatics, data integration, evolutionary computation and microbial genomics to the problem of designing microbial systems, in the area of Synthetic Biology. We are particularly interested in model-driven design for synthetic biology and are exploring how biological data can be used to inform this design process. We also investigating approaches to facilitate an integrative and systems approach to biology, with a particular emphasis on modelling and networks.

Our research in data science and cloud computing technology allows us to tackle problems in biological data analysis, simulation, and integration (see for example Newcastle data NUCoRe). We are interested in how the biological sciences can, in turn, drive developments in computing science. In particular, we are developing technology for data integration, computational modelling and comparative genomics, with an emphasis on the analysis of metagenomic datasets. For example, we are researching new approaches for mining (and designing) the genes encoding industrially useful enzymes from environmental DNA sequences. 

The ICOS group maintains wet-lab facilities in collaboration with the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences to allow the implementation of our computational designs of biological systems, with a particular focus on synthetic biology applied to B. subtilis, engineering stress response regulatory networks, portable genetic circuits and the engineering of microbial communities. See for example, the EPSRC funded Portabolomics project and the EPSRC funded Thinking Soils project. We have recently established a high-throughput automation lab where we are developing methods for the rapid exploration of the functional properties of enzymes.

We are also interested in the development and applications of new data standards, and work closely with the community in the development of the major standard in Synthetic Biology, Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL). We are currently focussing on data standards for automation and robotics in microbial biotechnology (for example as part of the ELIXIR Microbial Biotechnology Community).

Opportunities to work in our group arise frequently. We recruit both computational and wet-lab researchers. Please visit the positions available link for details or send a CV to anil.wipat[theusualsymbol]ncl.ac.uk.

We gratefully acknowledge funding from a variety of sources, including the BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, MRC and the Wellcome Trust.