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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

CEB Bigger Picture Talks

See the bigger picture, join the discussion

Our departmental seminar series, Bigger Picture Talks, runs throughout the academic year, inviting thought-leaders from across the world driving significant advances in our impact areas of energy, health and sustainability to share and discuss their work with us. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to hear from other leading researchers, develop new connections and collaborations, and discuss some of the wider questions in our field. We hope they will inspire new ideas for us all to take into our own research.

The seminars are predominantly for an internal audience, but are often open to all members of the University of Cambridge, and sometimes wider. We endeavour to open the events to as wide an audience as possible, and will share recordings where we are able, but due to the nature of research talks, they often feature pre-publication results, so this is not always possible. You can find our upcoming seminars on our listings, and see our previous speakers below. 

Past speakers



Professor Zhenan Bao, Stanford University: A skin-inspired dynamic polymer network for energy storage applications

Recent years have witnessed a sharp increase in demand for high-density energy storage devices, in which the Li-ion battery plays an increasingly significant role.

However, the conventional Li-ion battery, which has been studied and commercialized for decades, is nearing its theoretical capacity limit. It is therefore crucially important to develop a new generation of batteries to fulfil the aggressive energy density requirements of modern mobile phones, portable computers, electrical vehicles, and other electronic devices.

Silicon and Li metal anodes are potentially promising candidates to replace the graphite anode in Li-ion batteries. However, their cycling stability is still limited. In this talk, Stanford's Chair of Chemical Engineering, Professor Zhenan Bao, will present her group's approach of using dynamic polymer networks for addressing the mechanical and chemical instabilities in these high-energy density electrode materials.



Dr Marianne Ellis, University of Bath: Cultured meat as a protein alternative

Laboratory-grown meat offers a sustainable solution to meeting the food demands of our global population. But how close are we to producing cultured protein on the scales needed, and what challenges do we face in the developing the necessary infrastructure? Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath, Dr Marianne Ellis shares her work developing reactor and plant technology to make cultured meat a viable solution to tackling global hunger.


Professor Yvonne Perrie, University of Strathclyde: Designing delivery systems for mRNA vaccines

The efficacy of RNA -based vaccines has been recently demonstrated, leading to the use of mRNA-based COVID -19 vaccines. mRNA vaccines can induce potent immune responses without the need of translocation into the cell nucleus. Furthermore, mRNA manufacturing can be optimized to be low-cost, fully synthetic and scalable. mRNA vaccines are divided into conventional non-amplifying mRNA and self-amplifying mRNA (samRNA) vaccines and with all types, due to their polyanionic nature and susceptible to enzymatic degradation, delivery systems are needed to facilitate the clinical translation of RNA -based vaccines. To date, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) based on ionizable amino-lipids are the most advanced RNA delivery systems and this technology is now being deployed in COVID -19 vaccines. Within our laboratories we have investigated the impact of the delivery system formulation and platform and the route of administration. To achieve this, we investigated the immunogenicity of a self-amplifying mRNA encoding the rabies virus glycoprotein encapsulated in 3 different non-viral delivery platforms (lipid nanoparticles, solid lipid nanoparticles and polymeric nanoparticles). These were administered via three different routes: intramuscular, intradermal and intranasal. Immunogenicity data in a mouse model showed that lipid nanoparticles and solid lipid nanoparticles induced similar responses upon intramuscular and intradermal administration and comparable potency with the commercial (non-RNA based) vaccine. Our results demonstrate that both the administration route and delivery system format dictate self-amplifying RNA vaccine efficacy, with lipid nanoparticles and solid lipid nanoparticles given via either intramuscular or intradermal route promoting the highest responses.

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There are no upcoming talks currently scheduled in this series.