Advanced Research Fellowship: Linking the physical and biological sciences to study cell to cell interactions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Chemical & Biological Engineering

Abstract

Cellular interactions are fundamental to all biological processes. Understanding of cell-cell interactions, with the ultimate vision of harnessing this new knowledge for future engineering of bioprocesses, crosses medical, process engineering and environmental disciplines. The observation of cell-cell interactions is not a new phenomenon. However, despite the prevalence and significance of cell-cell interaction in bio-engineering systems, little is understood about how the processes at the molecular level (i.e. the science approach) connect to macro scale characteristics (i.e. the engineering problem. In order to understand, and ultimately engineer and model the process of cell-cell interactions, a combined approach that concurrently addresses the key (and interdependent) (process) engineering, biological and biochemical questions surrounding cell-cell interactions is needed. The development of such an integrated framework is the core philosophy of this fellowship. With my expertise, and the opportunity of this fellowship, I am uniquely placed to bring skills from both the physical/chemical engineering and biological sciences to bear on this bio-engineering issue. A core strength of this fellowship, is my ability to combine biological '-omic' techniques with engineering and colloidal investigations to link biological and physical processes that govern cell to cell interactions Using model bacterial systems (E.coli and B.cereus), I will examine how external drivers (e.g. cell to cell communication) influence cell surface characteristics and ultimately cell to cell interaction. I will extend this study into the archaeal and eukaryotic systems to gain a more holistic view of cell to cell interactions. This fellowhsip is timely, as it will open up new research opportunities to establish international networks with research groups specialising in individual key aspects of cell-cell interactions. This will provide excellent opportunities to apply this integrated approach to new cellular systems. It is also timely because, with the continued development in the biological sciences in relating gene expression to protein function, it is now possible to start relating biological function with specific physical cell characteristics and engineering relevance. The knowledge developed in this fellowship will, as a result, provide the fundamental understanding necessary to unravel the interconnected engineering, biological and physical processes in studying cell to cell interactions, and ultimately lead to innovative ways to manage the processes.

Publications

10 25 50

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Evans C (2012) An insight into iTRAQ: where do we stand now? in Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

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Hanotu J (2014) Harvesting and dewatering yeast by microflotation in Biochemical Engineering Journal

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Karunakaran E (2011) "Biofilmology": a multidisciplinary review of the study of microbial biofilms. in Applied microbiology and biotechnology

 
Description Cellular interactions are fundamental to all biological processes. Understanding of cell-cell interactions, with the ultimate vision of harnessing this new knowledge for future engineering of bioprocesses, crosses medical, process engineering and environmental disciplines. The observation of cell-cell interactions is not a new phenomenon. However, despite the prevalence and significance of cell-cell interaction in bio-engineering systems, little is understood about how the processes at the molecular level (i.e. the science approach) connect to macro scale characteristics (i.e. the engineering problem). In order to understand, and ultimately engineer and model the process of cell-cell interactions, a combined approach that concurrently addresses the key (and interdependent) (process) engineering, biological and biochemical questions surrounding cell-cell interactions is needed. The development of such an integrated framework was the core philosophy of this fellowship. With my expertise, and the opportunity of this fellowship, I was uniquely placed to bring skills from both the physical/chemical engineering and biological sciences to bear on this bio-engineering issue. A core strength of this fellowship, was my ability to combine biological '-omic' techniques with engineering and colloidal investigations to link biological and physical processes that govern cell to cell interactions. Using model bacterial systems (E.coli and B.cereus), I examined how external drivers influenced cell surface characteristics and ultimately cell to cell interaction. I extended this study into the different environmental applications (e.g. urban water systems, fermentation) as well as archaeal and eukaryotic systems to gain a more holistic view of cell to cell interactions. This fellowship was timely, as it opened up new research opportunities to establish international networks with research groups specialising in individual key aspects of cell-cell interactions or different applications. It was also timely because, with the continued development in the biological sciences, it is now possible to start relating biological function with specific physical cell characteristics and engineering relevance.
Exploitation Route The knowledge developed in this fellowship, as a result, provided the fundamental understanding necessary to begin to unravel the interconnected engineering, biological and physical processes in studying cell to cell interactions, and ultimately help to identify innovative ways to manage the processes.
Sectors Environment,Other

 
Description Referenced in academic journal papers. Used as an approach to investigate biofilm aggregation in a variety of different applications. Lead to new collaborations.
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Education
 
Description A European Network For Mitigating Bacterial Colonisation And Persistence On Foods And Food Processing Environments
Amount £145,000 (GBP)
Funding ID COST ACTION FA1202 
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2012 
End 01/2016
 
Description A GLOBAL SOLUTION TO PROTECT WATER BY TRANSFORMING WASTE
Amount £956,234 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J00538X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 05/2015
 
Description Biodesalination: from cell to tap
Amount £1,040,620 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J004871/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2011 
End 10/2014
 
Description Deploying Synthetic Biology in the Water Industry
Amount £200,696 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H023488/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2010 
End 04/2011
 
Description Pennine Water Group (PWG); Urban Water Systems for a Changing World
Amount £1,201,728 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I029346/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2011 
End 04/2016
 
Description ROADBLOCK: Towards Programmable Defensive Bacterial Coatings & Skins
Amount £605,234 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I031812/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 09/2015
 
Description Using a synthetic biology approach to engineer urban water system biofilms
Amount £246,458 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M017680/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 12/2016
 
Description Research Seminar - overview of activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited research seminar to School of Engineering, Newcastle University, where I gave an overview of my research activities with the aim of future collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018