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Dr. Darren Nesbeth

Lecturer in Synthetic and Molecular Biology. Supervisor and overall co-ordinator of iGEM at UCL. Lecturer in Synthetic Biology at the Department of Biochemical Engineering, who has been responsible for overseeing the iGEM competition at UCL for many years! Loves to eat porridge and watch vintage VHS films when away from iGEM planning.

Philipp Boeing

Msc Computer Science. Human Practice Supervisor. I have been leading iGEM teams at UCL since 2011, including last year’s Plastic Republic team. This year, I principally supervise team Spotless Mind on Human Practice, as well as general iGEM best practice. Apart from iGEM, I spend my time on SynBioSoc and DIYbio. Diversity!

Yanika Borg

PhD Student. Bacterial Lab Supervisor. When I’m not working on my PhD in Synthetic Biology, I am supervising Spotless Mind’s bacterial team. My role is to oversee all experiments carried out on E. coli, to demonstrate molecular cloning techniques to the team, and to calm Andy down on a daily basis. This is my second year supervising iGEM at UCL, and I love the whole experience.

Alex Kinna

PhD Student. Mammalian Lab Supervisor. I am a 2nd year PhD student studying biochemical and protein engineering. My role is to advise and support mammalian cell culture, testing of circuits in mammalian cells and production of target proteins.


In the course of the development of our idea, we consulted synthetic biologists, neuroscientists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and geneticists and took on board their feedback in order to develop our idea and add the detail to our genetic circuit. We show what advice we received here and how this advice was incorporated into our final project.

Dr. Jeremy Cook is a senior lecturer and the programme tutor for the Neuroscience Bsc at UCL. His research interests concern the development the visual system, including the embryonic emergence of retinal cell patterns. He advised us to carefully consider the neurosurgical implications of our project, noting the preferability of an autograph of microglia, and the need to design our circuit so that the microglia only become de-activated at plaques, because a degree of activation is required for chemotaxis.

Dr. John Scholes is an honorary senior lecturer, and lectures on the Neuroscience Bsc course at UCL. He supported the idea of using BDNF in the circuit in order to stop cell cycle re-entry in AD and suggested ApoE as a possible circuit component, as it could increase the activity of our chosen protease.

Dr. Jennifer Pococks' research involves cell signaling in neurodegenerative dieseases and this onvolves the study of microglia in the context of AD. She advised the team on using microglia in the lab.

Professor Patrick Haggard is a prominent figure in neuroethical debate, Patrick Haggard is a neuroscientist at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Department of Psychology, UCL. We are thankful to him for providing inspiration and being a sounding board for our neuroethical investigations, and for agreeing to be filmed as part of our documentary.

Professor John Powell is a geneticist in the Department of Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine at Kings College London. His research interests are in the application of human genetics to the study of neurological and psychiatric disorders; in schizophrenia and autism. He helped direct our theoretical work on how synthetic neurobiology could be expanded to different brain conditions, therapies and enhancements.

Professor Stephen Hart works on gene therapy at Wolfson Centre for Gene Therapy of Childhood Disease, UCL. We are thankful for him on his advice concerning how to transfect native microglia in vivo. By pure serendipity we found that he and his research team had developed a method of transfecting microglia in vivo using lipid-peptide nanocomplexes. This result of his was un-expected as his team had been trying to transfect cancerous cells in rat brains but increases the feasibility of our idea.

Dr. Tammy Cheng and Dr. Paul Bates are scientists at the BMM lab at Cancer Research UK that envisioned and helped team member Alex create and run a bioinformatics network analysis programme, as well serving as discussing our ideas more generally and so helping to improve them.


Dr. Howard Boland is a multidisciplinary practitioner with a background in science and art. Howard is the artistic director and found of the organisation C-Lab. He holds an interest in contemporary arts and is very active in "Art from Synthetic Biology". He advised us on hold our Speed debate event.

Shirley Nurock is the Coordinator of the London Area Research Network in Alzheimer's Society. She holds experience as a carer and researcher in Alzheimer's Disease. She was a main speaker at our Speed debate event, where she underlined the desperation for a new way to tackle this tragic disease and warned about the ethics of over hyping our treatment.

Lubmilla Ruban is a stem cell biologist in UCL's Biochemical Engineering Department, who manages the Cell Culture, Cell Bioprocessing and the Liquid Nitrogen facilities. We are thankful to her for teaching us the basics of mammalian cell culture, including how to passage cells and how to use the essential equipment of the mammalian labs.

Sean Tuite is a first year undergraduate film student to whom we owe thanks for his help in creating our documentary as cameraman and editor.

Annie Wei is a PhD student of the UCL Biochemical Engineering department who offered us supervision and support with lab work