Biosensor design using synthetic proteins: protein design, surface chemistry and soft matter physics

Supervisors: Lynne Regan ( Edinburgh, School of Biological Sciences ), Cait Macphee

Project description:

This project combines the expertise and mentorship of a soft condensed matter physicist (McPhee) with that of a protein chemist (Regan), to tackle cutting edge issues in materials and surface design. This project will use synthetic biology and protein engineering approaches to implement a new strategy for biosensor design. The Ph.D. student will be engaged in all aspects of the project – including molecular biological manipulations and cloning, protein purification and characterization, surface and materials characterizations and testing biosensor prototypes. Co-supervision across the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Physics Engineering and Astronomy will ensure that the student interacts with a broad range of scientists who will be able to provide appropriate specialized advice. The student’s thesis research will focus on an issue of considerable societal and economic importance – the development of a sensitive test for Johne’s disease in cattle. We encourage applications from students with undergraduate degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, physics or engineering who are keen to think and work on an interdisciplinary project that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. Professors Regan and McPhee are committed to the importance of scientists engaging with the public and participating in outreach activities. The student will be encouraged to partake in such endeavors, which will also facilitate the development of excellent communication skills.


Interfacial self-assembly of a bacterial hydrophobin. (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 112:5419-24.

Fabrication of Modularly Functionalizable Microcapsules Using Protein-Based Technologies (2016) ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng., 2:1856–1861

Trends and advances in the diagnosis and control of paratuberculosis in domestic livestock. (2016) Vet Q. 36:203-227.