The University of Manchester awarded nearly £7 million to advance UK’s engineering biology initiatives

Today, researchers from The University of Manchester have been named as recipients of nearly £7m funding from UKRI’s Engineering Biology Hubs and Mission Award Projects which will deliver on the government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology.

Manchester is the recipient of five awards, including:

    Dr Lu Shin Wong , Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology , and Professor Michael Shaver , Professor of Polymer Science at the Henry Royce Institute, who are a Co-Investigators on a Mission Hub led by the University of Portsmouth. The mission Hub is looking into how engineering biology can tackle plastic waste.

    Professor Jonathan Lloyd , Professor of Geomicrobiology, from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is involved in a Mission Hub led by the University of Kent, and also leads a Mission Award, both of which will be looking at ways to use engineering biology to process metals, including for bioremediation and for metal recovery from industrial waste streams.

    Professor Anthony Green , Dr Sarah Lovelock , and Professor Patrick Cai of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, received a Mission Award for a project that will engineer biological systems to enable economical production of functionalised proteins including biopharmaceuticals and industrial biocatalysts.

    Professor Michael Brockhurst , Chair in Evolutionary Biology, from the Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomics, and Professor Patrick Cai of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, are looking into engineering phages with intrinsic biocontainment to develop new treatments against drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The hubs are funded for five years through UKRI and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and are a collaboration between academic institutions and industrial partners. The Mission Award Projects are funded for two years. These projects will expand upon our current knowledge of engineering biology and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

Announcing the funding the Science, Research and Innovation Minister, Andrew Griffith, said: "Engineering biology has the power to transform our health and environment, from developing life-saving medicines to protecting our environment and food supply and beyond.

"Our latest £100m investment through the UKRI Technology Missions Fund will unlock projects as diverse as developing vaccines...preventing food waste through disease resistant crops, reducing plastic pollution, and even driving efforts to treat snakebites.

"With new Hubs and Mission Awards spread across the country, from Edinburgh to Portsmouth, we are supporting ambitious researchers and innovators around the UK in pioneering groundbreaking new solutions which can transform how we live our lives, while growing our economy."

We are thrilled that Manchester is such a big part of this initiative from UKRI and the BBSRC and that we will be actively contributing to tackling a number of global challenges, from fundamental aspects like scaling up our ability to produce genetically engineered organisms for industrial applications, to environmental remediation, biomedicine and biosafety.

We have a unique mix of skills here at The University of Manchester, which you can see represented in the successful projects. These projects will be important points along the road to building a sustainable bioeconomy here in the UK, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their work.

Engineering biology has the potential to tackle a diverse range of global challenges, driving economic growth in the UK and around the world, as well as increase national security, resilience and preparedness. The University of Manchester has a broad range of expertise in engineering biology across its three Faculties and is also home to the international centre of excellence, the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.

Biotechnology is one of the University’s five research beacons - exemplars of interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that lead to pioneering discoveries and improve the lives of people around the world.­technology­-research/