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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

IfLS Seminar Series: Dr Andrew Phillips, Head of Biological Computation Group, Microsoft Research Cambridge Event

16:00 - 17:00
2 May 2012
Shackleton Building 44, Room 1041

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Janette Thompson on 023 8059 7280 or email .

Event details

"Programming Cells"

Living cells are highly sophisticated computational machines, constantly processing information to survive, grow and reproduce. If we could program cells as effectively as we program digital computers, we could make fundamental breakthroughs in health and energy production, while also gaining insight into the workings of life itself. In spite of this potential, the task of programming cells remains highly complex, and we have reached a point where powerful computer software is needed to accelerate further progress. In this talk I will describe our preliminary efforts to develop computer software for programming cells. The software allows the desired behaviour of molecular components of the cell to be programmed, simulated, analysed and then automatically compiled to DNA code. I will also discuss some of the many challenges that remain, including how to accurately characterise molecular components and how to predict the dynamics of multi-cellular systems. In the same way that software for programming digital computers heralded a new era of technology, we anticipate that software for programming living cells could pave the way for a biotechnological revolution.

Speaker information

Dr Andrew Phillips, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Andrew Phillips is head of the Biological Computation Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, where he is conducting research into programming languages and methods for simulating and analysing biological systems. Andrew received a postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, under a scholarship from the Barbados government. He pursued a PhD in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, where he worked on theory and implementation of concurrent, distributed programming languages. He joined Microsoft Research Cambridge in 2005, to conduct research at the intersection of programming language theory and biological modelling. In 2011 he received a Technology Review TR35 award for work on software for computer-assisted genetic engineering. The award recognises technology innovators under the age of 35. His hobbies include snowboarding, kite-surfing and kickboxing.

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