Susan RosserView all speakers
Susan Rosser is a Professor in the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Glasgow and an EPSRC Leadership Fellow focused on Synthetic Biology. Susan studied microbiology and genetics at the university of Dundee before a PhD working on the mechanisms of multiple antibiotic resistance. Susan then moved to the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge to work on biotransformations of cocaine and high explosives. She then became a lecturer in biotechnology at the University of Glasgow before being promoted to Professor in 2012.
She is the programme coordinator and PI of a large transatlantic synthetic biology project co-funded by the EPSRC and NSF which aims to develop synthetic biology tools for rapid generation, evolution and optimisation of genetic circuits and metabolic pathways. Her synthetic biology research interests focus on developing tools for rapid pathway assembly and modification, microbial fuel cells, logic gates and biocomputing, and tools for rapid industrial strain improvement.
One major target in Synthetic Biology is the creation of genetically modified organisms, to produce valuable chemical substances economically, in high yield and with low environmental impact, or to carry out beneficial chemical transformations. To create these organisms, it is often necessary to introduce a set of new genes and assemble them in specified positions within the organism’s genome. The genetic techniques currently available for this ‘assembly’ task are still inadequate, and gene assembly is considered to be a serious bottleneck in the work leading to the development of useful microorganisms. The first main aim of our research programme is to establish a sophisticated new methodology for this gene assembly process which will achieve a step- change in the speed and efficiency of creating new microorganism strains. For this purpose we have adapted a remarkable group of bacterial recombinases whose natural task is to carry out this kind of genetic rearrangement but which have hitherto been underused as tools for Synthetic Biology. We have designed rapid, robust and efficient ways of making gene cassettes that can be recombined in to specified positions in DNA. By doing this we can assemble collections of genes to order within a particular microorganism. Furthermore we can choose where to place the genes and in what order, and replace any individual parts with different versions. This permits much easier optimization of complex genetic systems than is currently possible. Using our new methods we intend to engineer microbial cells to make useful products e.g. next-generation biofuels, fine and platform chemicals.