Dr Elise Cachat

University of Edinburgh

Elise is a lecturer in Synthetic Biology at the University of Edinburgh. As a postdoctoral researcher, she started working in the field of mammalian synthetic biology at the Edinburgh Medical School. There, she programmed cells to self-organise into specific structures and patterns using synthetic gene circuits. These novel cellular structures serve as simple platforms to test existing theories of developmental biology ‘in a dish’, and will in the future be used to develop synthetic cell-based tissues for patients. Since her appointment as lecturer in 2016, her research focuses on constructing synthetic cell-cell communication systems to better understand how cells in our body interact and communicate with each other. With this synthetic approach, she wants to tackle different challenges relating to our health and well-being: for example, study the complex interactions between our gut cells and the microbes that colonise our intestine, or develop synthetic cells as therapeutic agents. Elise also collaborates with writers, designers and artists to explore through art the questions raised by science and more particularly synthetic biology. Projects such as ‘Crossing Kingdoms’ are presented in conferences and exhibitions internationally to encourage scientists, the public and other stakeholders to reflect on how scientific research ramifies through society. Elise is looking forward to the European Crucible 2021 event, meet new collaborators and find new applications for her research.