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Prof Nicolas Szita

Biochemical Engineering

020 7679 4418 (Ext.34418)


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Nicolas Szita’s research interests focus on the translation of bioprocessing concepts into microfluidic systems (or Lab-on-a-chip systems). He has particular expertise in the use of advanced microfabrication techniques for polymers (rapid prototyping), glass and silicon. He co-ordinates the research activities of the Microfluidics Laboratory in Biochemical Engineering, and collaborates with the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN). Microfluidic devices provide an environment conducive to cell growth, operate with much smaller volumes, reducing the amount of cells and media required, and can be fitted with instrumentation for the real-time monitoring of assays. Additionally, they offer advantages unavailable at the larger scales, such as precise temporal and spatial control over the cellular microenvironment, and the scale-out to platforms of multiple microfluidic systems for high-throughput applications. Microfluidic systems are thus particularly suitable for the development of novel bioprocesses and the optimisation of bioprocesses for scale-up. Current research includes Ph.D. projects on the use of microfluidic systems to process tiny amounts of precious human cells for drug discovery and cell therapy (with Dr Farlan Veraitch), the characterisation of mass transfer in microfluidic devices for mammalian cell culturing (with Prof Gary Lye), the establishment of experimental approaches for enzymatic bioconversion in microfluidic reactors (with Dr Frank Baganz and Dr H.C Hailes, Chemistry, as part of the Bioconversion-Chemistry-Engineering Interface, BiCE). Nicolas Szita is particularly active in the applications of microfluidics to Synthetic Biology. Together with Dr S. Cockroft (U of Edinburgh, Consortium Leader), Dr J. Howse (U of Sheffield), Dr L. Dougan (U of Leeds), and Dr K Polizzi (Imperial), he has won a Flashlight Funding research grant in Synthetic Biology (“Enabling Tools & Technologies in Synthetic Biology”). In the framework of an European European Science Foundation (ESF) EuroCORES Eurosynbio grant (“Synthetic Biology To Obtain Novel Antibiotics and Optimized Production Systems”, SYNMOD), he develops parallelised microfluidic bioreactors for the rapid acquisition of design-relevant gene expression parameters in the required statistical depth. The consortium members include Prof O Kuipers (University of Groningen, Consortium Leader), Prof S Panke (ETH Zurich), Prof F Götz (Eberhard Karls Universität of Tübingen), Prof R Wagner (Universität Regensburg), and Dr M Schmidt (Organisation for International Dialogue and Conflict Management in Austria).

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