Focus on synthetic biology in prize lecture at University of Leicester

The winner of the Institute of Physics Tom Duke Prize, Andrew Turberfield, a Professor of Physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, is to deliver his prize lecture at the University of Leicester.

Hosted by the Leicester Physics Centre, it takes place on Tuesday 22 November at 6.30pm in Lecture Theatre A of the Physics and Astronomy Building, University of Leicester.

Professor Turberfield's lecture is entitled 'Building with biomolecules: synthetic biology from the bottom up'.

Nanofabrication by biomolecular self-assembly can be used to create atomically precise, nanometre-scale structures. Control offered by DNA-self-assembly is spectacular: thousands of oligonucleotides can be designed to form rigid, three-dimensional complexes. Each has a unique sequence which defines its position in these structures, and chemically modified oligonucleotides can be used to position other molecular components. Synthetic nucleic acids can also form programmable dynamic systems which compute and exhibit complex temporal behaviours. RNA can be programmed to assemble within cells, and devices formed from nucleic acids can couple to and interact with living systems. Peptides and proteins can also be used for molecular-scale construction: they offer chemical diversity and naturally evolved functions at the expense of a less predictable set of assembly rules. This rapidly evolving research field will be discussed and its potential to provide new tools and technologies from biophysics to manufacture to medicine.

Dr Darren Wright, from the University of Leicester said: "Prof Turberfield recently won the Tom Duke Prize at the Institute of Physics and we are very fortunate that he will be speaking in Leicester. Such work is important for society and it is great to see such interdisciplinary science occurring within physics."

The Leicester Physics Centre is sponsored by the East Midlands Branch of the Institute of Physics and hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.

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