Dr Andrew Hitchcock awarded 5-year Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Dr Andrew Hitchcock 500

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Hitchcock from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology who has been awarded a 5-year Royal Society University Research Fellowship for his research project: ‘Photosynthesis reimagined: a modular approach to engineering phototrophy’. 

Photosynthesis provides the energy for nearly all life on Earth and generates the oxygen we breathe. Improving the efficiency of photosynthesis to increase the yield of crop plants and microbial cell factories using synthetic biology approaches requires greater understanding of the biosynthetic, regulatory and functional machinery of photosynthetic organisms.

This £649,497 project aims to construct rationally designed genetic modules to test and expand current knowledge of photosynthesis and phototrophy using model organisms amenable to high throughput genetic manipulation and screening. The long-term vision is to combine optimised modules for photosynthetic pigments, cofactors and proteins to direct the assembly of simple model photosystem and antenna complexes, providing the first definitive test of the basic requirements for building photosynthesis from the bottom up, a grand challenge in synthetic biology.

Dr Hitchcock is one of 43 new University Research Fellows (URFs) appointed in 2019. These prestigious Royal Society fellowships are awarded to outstanding early career scientists who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, providing them with the opportunity to build an independent research career.