Professor Mark Isalan, Professor of Synthetic Biology

“I’m Professor of Synthetic Biology in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial in South Kensington. I’ve been at Imperial since 2013 – before that I was a group leader at the EMBL-CRG in Barcelona for around seven years.

I’m originally a protein engineer – for my PhD I made DNA-binding zinc fingers with Prof. Sir Aaron Klug at the MRC LMB in Cambridge. That was in the mid-1990s. Over the years though, I’ve moved more towards genetic network engineering and gene therapy. My general aim is to design working biological systems that behave predictably and robustly.

My work includes engineering gene circuits in bacterial and mammalian cells, answering basic questions on how to engineer patterns and structures. More applied projects include one to make zinc finger gene switches for long-term shut down of the mutant gene in Huntington’s disease. That work is quite developed and my team is hoping to get that into the clinic as soon as possible.

I enjoy teaching Synthetic Biology to undergraduates as well and a variety of Masters students.”

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