Professor Tom Ellis | Associate Faculty

Ellis, Tom

Tom Ellis' research interests lie in exploring the role and mechanics of genetic materials to deliver the biological functions cells need for life and health. To this end, his studies encompass synthetic genomics, synthetic biology, genome engineering, the function of DNA sequence, and programming the biosynthesis of materials and therapeutics.

About me

I am fascinated by the potential of synthetic genome engineering and synthetic biology to unravel the interplay of DNA sequence and genomic structure to determine how cells evolve, differentiate and function. My research focuses on developing the foundational tools for accelerating, automating and scaling design-led synthetic genomics and synthetic biology, focusing on research projects in yeast (S. cerevisiae) as well as applied projects in other industrially-relevant and medically-relevant microbes.

As a member of Associate Faculty at the Sanger Institute I am working with fellow Faculty and Associate Faculty in the following key areas:

  • to define the minimum genetic architecture needed to create a fully functioning genome
  • to develop techniques to precisely manipulate and edit large stretches of DNA.

My main research team is based in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, where we have developed and established a range of experimental techniques in synthetic biology, and have published more than 50 papers including work in Cell, Nature Methods, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS and Nature Reviews. I co-lead the teaching of Imperial’s synthetic biology undergraduate module and have won multiple awards for teaching and for supervision of iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) teams.

I lead the UK-funded project to build a synthetic yeast chromosome for the international synthetic yeast project Sc2.0: http://syntheticyeast.org/

For more information about my research and my team at Imperial,  please visit the Tom Ellis Lab Webpage

Publications

  • Engineering a Model Cell for Rational Tuning of GPCR Signaling.

    Shaw WM, Yamauchi H, Mead J, Gowers GF, Bell DJ et al.

    Cell 2019;177;3;782-796.e27

  • Rapid host strain improvement by in vivo rearrangement of a synthetic yeast chromosome.

    Blount BA, Gowers GF, Ho JCH, Ledesma-Amaro R, Jovicevic D et al.

    Nature communications 2018;9;1;1932

  • Burden-driven feedback control of gene expression.

    Ceroni F, Boo A, Furini S, Gorochowski TE, Borkowski O et al.

    Nature methods 2018;15;5;387-393

  • Biosynthesis of the antibiotic nonribosomal peptide penicillin in baker's yeast.

    Awan AR, Blount BA, Bell DJ, Shaw WM, Ho JCH et al.

    Nature communications 2017;8;15202

  • Extracellular Self-Assembly of Functional and Tunable Protein Conjugates from Bacillus subtilis.

    Gilbert C, Howarth M, Harwood CR and Ellis T

    ACS synthetic biology 2017;6;6;957-967

  • Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain.

    Florea M, Hagemann H, Santosa G, Abbott J, Micklem CN et al.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2016;113;24;E3431-40

  • Bricks and blueprints: methods and standards for DNA assembly.

    Casini A, Storch M, Baldwin GS and Ellis T

    Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology 2015;16;9;568-76

  • Quantifying cellular capacity identifies gene expression designs with reduced burden.

    Ceroni F, Algar R, Stan GB and Ellis T

    Nature methods 2015;12;5;415-8

  • DNA assembly for synthetic biology: from parts to pathways and beyond.

    Ellis T, Adie T and Baldwin GS

    Integrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro 2011;3;2;109-18

  • Diversity-based, model-guided construction of synthetic gene networks with predicted functions.

    Ellis T, Wang X and Collins JJ

    Nature biotechnology 2009;27;5;465-71

  • Engineering a Model Cell for Rational Tuning of GPCR Signaling.

    Shaw WM, Yamauchi H, Mead J, Gowers GF, Bell DJ et al.

    Cell 2019;177;3;782-796.e27

  • Rapid host strain improvement by in vivo rearrangement of a synthetic yeast chromosome.

    Blount BA, Gowers GF, Ho JCH, Ledesma-Amaro R, Jovicevic D et al.

    Nature communications 2018;9;1;1932

  • Burden-driven feedback control of gene expression.

    Ceroni F, Boo A, Furini S, Gorochowski TE, Borkowski O et al.

    Nature methods 2018;15;5;387-393

  • Extracellular Self-Assembly of Functional and Tunable Protein Conjugates from Bacillus subtilis.

    Gilbert C, Howarth M, Harwood CR and Ellis T

    ACS synthetic biology 2017;6;6;957-967

  • Biosynthesis of the antibiotic nonribosomal peptide penicillin in baker's yeast.

    Awan AR, Blount BA, Bell DJ, Shaw WM, Ho JCH et al.

    Nature communications 2017;8;15202

  • Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain.

    Florea M, Hagemann H, Santosa G, Abbott J, Micklem CN et al.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2016;113;24;E3431-40

  • Bricks and blueprints: methods and standards for DNA assembly.

    Casini A, Storch M, Baldwin GS and Ellis T

    Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology 2015;16;9;568-76

  • Quantifying cellular capacity identifies gene expression designs with reduced burden.

    Ceroni F, Algar R, Stan GB and Ellis T

    Nature methods 2015;12;5;415-8

  • DNA assembly for synthetic biology: from parts to pathways and beyond.

    Ellis T, Adie T and Baldwin GS

    Integrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro 2011;3;2;109-18

  • Diversity-based, model-guided construction of synthetic gene networks with predicted functions.

    Ellis T, Wang X and Collins JJ

    Nature biotechnology 2009;27;5;465-71

Ellis, Tom
Tom's Timeline
2019

Professor at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London

2018

Joined the Sanger Institute as a member of Associate Faculty

2017

Appointed to UK Government Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification

2016

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Reader at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London

2014

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London

2010

Lecturer at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London

2009

Postdoc in synthetic biology at the Institute of Biotechnology at University of Cambridge

2006

Postdoc in Jim Collins' synthetic biology group at Boston University: devised a synthesis-based library approach to engineering gene regulatory networks and applied it to nonlinear systems and to phenotypes relevant to biofuel and beer production

2004

Senior Scientist at Spirogen Ltd: set up a biological screening unit and developed high-throughput assays to characterise the interactions between drugs and oncogene promoters

Finished PhD under Michael J. Waring, at the University of Cambridge: examined drugs that bind directly to the promoter elements of cancer gene