Webinar Highlight – Programmable behaviour in synthetic protobiology


In this talk, Prof. Stephen Mann reviewed some recent experiments undertaken in his laboratory that demonstrated simple forms of programmable behaviour in synthetic protocells. Four new areas are currently under investigation: (i) enzyme-powered motility and oscillation in sensory protocells, (ii) DNA-based signal processing in synthetic protocell communication networks, (iii) coordinated assembly of beating prototissues, and (iv) sociability and antagonism in synthetic protocell communities. He will use these new model systems to discuss programmable pathways towards chemical cognition, distributed computation, collective chemomechanical dynamics, artificial predation and endosymbiosis in compartmentalized artificial life-like micro-ensembles.

Recent progress in the chemical construction of micro-compartmentalized semipermeable colloidal objects comprising integrated biomimetic functions is paving the way towards rudimentary forms of artificial cell-like entities (protocells) for modelling complex biological systems, exploring the origin of life, and advancing future proto-living technologies. Although several new types of protocells are currently available, the design of synthetic protocell communities and investigation of their collective properties has received little attention.

Date: 17-June 2021 (Thu)
Time: 5-6 pm (HKT)
Venue : Online (Zoom)
Language : English

Speaker: Prof. Stephen Mann, Max Planck Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology and Centre for Protolife Research, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TS, UK

Moderator: Prof. Anderson Shum, Professor & Associate Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Hong Kong

Brief bio:

Professor Stephen Mann

Professor of Chemistry
Max Planck Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, and
Centre for Protolife Research
School of Chemistry
University of Bristol

Stephen Mann is Professor of Chemistry, Co-Director of the Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, and Director of the Centre for Protolife Research at the University of Bristol, UK. He is also Chair Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Prof Mann is distinguished for contributions to biomineralization, bioinspired materials chemistry and protocell research. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society UK in 2003 and a Member of Academia Europaea in 2020. Prof Mann was awarded the RSC de Gennes Prize (2011), SCF French-British Prize (2011), RSC Nyholm Medal (2018) and Royal Society Davy Medal (2016). He was listed in the top 0.01% of cited scientists in 2019 and has published over 500 scientific papers with a h index of 125. He was visiting professor at the College de France, Paris (2009) and Harvard University, USA (2011).

Brief Bio: http://www.stephenmann.co.uk/