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Dr Darren Nesbeth
UCL Biochemical Engineering
Bernard Katz Building, Gordon Street
Dr Darren Nesbeth profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Dept of Biochemical Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Darren completed his PhD with Prof Mark Field at Imperial College, investigating intracellular trafficking in mammalian cells and the African trypanosome. After completing his doctoral studies, Darren took a two year career break from research to work in the City of London advising biotechnology and Internet companies on financial communication strategy as they sought initial public offering (IPO) on UK and European equity markets. He then returned to research, working on cell and gene therapy with Dr David Darling, Prof Farzin Farzaneh (Kings College London) and Prof Nigel Slater (University of Cambridge) to develop a self-biotinylating lentiviral 293T HEK packaging cell line. He then constructed single chain trimers of the human MHC Class I complex with Dr Keith Gould at Imperial College to investigate the aetiology of spondyloarthritis before returning to UCL to work with Prof Eli Keshavarz-Moore and Prof John Ward to engineer Escherichia coli and Pichia pastoris cells for improved bioprocessing of antibody-based therapeutics. 

Research Summary

Darren's research is focused on the industrial application of synthetic biology for the re-design of living cells for improved upstream and downstream bioprocessing. His expertise is in the use of molecular biology, intracellular trafficking and protein engineering to design cells with useful functions that are also robust to industrial environments. His research experience spans working with Escherichia coli, Pichia pastoris and tissue culture in the fields of biopharmaceutical manufacturing, cell and gene therapy, whole cell biocatalysis, tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting. 

In addition to applied research Darren also investigates the fundamental properties of synthetic gene networks and the biologically realisable design of cells that autonomously optimise their ability to perform a pre-programmed function. His research has also explored the feasibility of establishing synthetic biology standards in bioprocess monitoring and genome design. Darren has extensive experience providing expert advice to biotechnology companies, including Ingenza, BJS Biotechnologies, Enteromics, Bento Bioworks Ltd, SilicoLife, Selectamark Security Systems Plc, Bio-Prodict, Vapourtec and biomaterials companies such as Furoid, Caviar Biotec and Better Dairy. 

Teaching Summary

Darren teaches applied molecular and cellular biology to undergraduate and masters students and has been Programme Director for both the Masters of Engineering (MEng) in Chemical with Biochemical Engineering (2011-2019) and the Masters of Research (MRes) in Synthetic Biology (2019-2020). Darren drew on his extensive experience of teaching and research supervision to edit and co-author the 'Synthetic Biology Handbook' (CRC Press) and contribute the chapter entitled, 'Connecting the curriculum with the iGEM student research competition' to the UCL Press textbook 'Developing the Higher Education Curriculum - Research-Based Education in Practice'. From 2009-2017 Darren instructed teams participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) student, summer synthetic biology competition from UCL, UCL Academy School and the London BioHackspace community laboratory. 

01-AUG-2007 – 01-OCT-2009 Cell Engineering for Bioprocessing EPSRC PDRA Biochemical Engineering University College London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2005 – 01-JUL-2007 Molecular Immunology MRC PDRA Department of Immunology Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, United Kingdom
31-DEC-2001 – 31-DEC-2004 Lentivirus Engineering for Immunotherapy BBSRC PDRA Haematological and Molecular Medicine King's College London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2000 – 30-DEC-2001 Account Executive WPP Group Buchanan Communications, United Kingdom
Academic Background
    ATQ01 - Successfully completed an institutional provision in teaching in the HE sector  
1999   Doctor of Philosophy Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
1995   Bachelor of Science University College London
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