Philipp Holliger

A synthetic biology approach to abiogenesis

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK

Abiogenesis is the process by which life arises from non-living matter as a result of processes such as spontaneous selforganization driven by physicochemical properties culminating in self-replicating molecules, which became gradually more complex.
Synthetic biology seeks to probe fundamental aspects of biological form and function by construction (synthesis) rather than deconstruction (analysis).
Holliger will outline how such a synthetic biology approach might be applied to abiogenesis and how the assembly of synthetic quasibiological systems able to grow, replicate and evolve, might illuminate universal properties of life and the search for its origins on earth and beyond.

Philipp Holliger graduated from ETH Zürich with distinction before moving to Cambridge for his Ph.D. and postdoctoral work with Sir Greg Winter. Since 2005, he has been Program Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. His research spans the fields of chemical biology, synthetic biology and in vitro evolution. He is a member of EMBO and of F1000 and a consultant to several successful biotech companies.


After the talk, it is time for the SeminBar Lounge and for socialising. Tonight, students of NCCR present a ‘Pub-Night’: Before the bell will ring for the last call, your (science) knowledge will be rewarded in a pub-quiz. And ‘Thom Dudelsackspieler’ will pump his pipes to produce fine and enthralling sounds. With beer and DJ Morbus Nova. Everyone welcome.