Synthetic biology: scaling from lab to market

As synthetic biology moves from lab to market, experimental processes must be adapted to support industrial-scale applications. When cultured in large volumes, engineered cells can become stressed and their behaviours change dramatically. A cellular factory that pumps out a particular chemical product may no longer do so reliably once a stress response has been triggered.

New understanding of logically interacting genetic 'circuits' makes it possible to observe behaviour in living cells, detect early signs of stress and intervene to turn unhappy cells into happy cells. Genetic circuits will improve productivity. They open the door to a plug-and-play approach to synthetic biology in which specific cellular functions can be incorporated and adjusted on demand.

I'm curious about..."understanding the keys to the industrialization of synthetic biology: happy cells producing products in large volumes."Karen Polizzi 


Dr Karen Polizzi first joined the Department of Life Sciences as a Research Councils UK Fellow in Biopharmaceutical Processing in 2008. Karen has a multidisciplinary background with a first degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Chemical Engineering.


Karen's research explores how biosensors can be used to see what is happening inside cells and measure their stress response.

These techniques have value in exploring a variety of physiological and pathological responses, including:

  • Intracellular processing of proteins
  • Production of pharmaceutical agents
  • Neurodegeneration and ageing



Foresight and futures work

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2015
The Revolution in Synthetic Biology with Imperial College London

Profile Credits
Profile: Alex Ayad, Chloe Stockford, Kit Huckvale