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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

I study the role and impact of open approaches to Intellectual Property for a Sustainable and Equitable Bioeconomy. My work focuses on better understanding problems facing researchers accessing biological research tools in low-resource contexts, particularly Latin America and Africa. My team develops innovative technologies for local, distributed manufacturing of enzymes to improve access and build capacity for biological research. The broader aim of my research is to contextualize “open source” approaches to biotechnology within current narratives of innovation and the bioeconomy policy agenda.



Synthetic Biology

Cambridge Analytical Biotechnology group

My research is centered around local, distributed biomanufacturing of enzymes to enhance global capacity for biological research and advance applications in health and sustainability. Ongoing projects include developing open source DNA toolkits for recombinant protein expression using synthetic biology-based platform technologies, high-quality protein purification in low-resource contexts, open source microbial strain engineering, CRISPR-based molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases and enzyme-based carbon capture and upcycling.



I am currently a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and a Group Leader at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). My work involves developing open-source technologies for engineering biology and biomanufacturing. Before this role, I served as the Programme Coordinator for the University of Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative in Synthetic Biology and the OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Center. I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and a DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford, focusing on the genetic control of dengue mosquitoes.


Key publications: 

Bird, A. R., Molloy, J. C., & Hall, E. A. (2023). Biocatalytic synthesis of 2′‐deoxynucleotide 5′‐triphosphates from bacterial genomic DNA: Proof of principle. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 120(6), 1531-1544. 

Sundaram, L., Ajioka, J., Molloy, J.C. Synthetic Biology Regulation in Europe: Containment, Release, and Beyond (2023). Synthetic Biology, ysad009. 

Guzman-Chavez, F., Arce, A., Adhikari, A., Vadhin, S., Pedroza-Garcia, J. A., Gandini, C., ... & Haseloff, J. (2022). Constructing Cell-Free Expression Systems for Low-Cost Access. ACS Synth Biol, 11(3), 1114-1128. 

Arce, A., Guzman Chavez, F., Gandini, C., Puig, J., Matute, T., Haseloff, J., ... & Federici, F. (2021). Decentralizing cell-free RNA sensing with the use of low-cost cell extracts. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 9, 727584. 

Kahl, L., Molloy, J., Patron, N., Matthewman, C., Haseloff, J., Grewal, D., ... & Endy, D. (2018). Opening options for material transfer. Nature biotechnology, 36(10), 923-927. 

Teaching and Supervisions


I am an Affiliate Lecturer with the Department of Engineering where I teach on 3G1 (Molecular Bioengineering I). I also contribute guest lectures and project supervision in CEB courses including the Sensor CDT and MPhil Biotechnology. I frequently organise short courses on molecular and synthetic biology in Africa and Latin America, including the Enzyme Manufacturing Masterclass which has been delivered to over 100 researchers and postgraduate students.

Research supervision: 

 I am currently not accepting PhD students as primary supervisor but I welcome approaches for co-supervision on topics of relevance to my research. I am accepting applicants for MPhil by Research and anticipate supporting a maximum of one applicant per year. I typically respond to emails within a few days and I prefer to meet with prospective applicants at least one month before the relevant deadline. This is helpful to ensure that expectations are aligned, there is a good fit with the work of the lab and to discuss potential projects.

Other Professional Activities

I am a Founder of the Global Open Science Hardware Community (GOSH, a global community for those developing, using and studiying open source approaches to scientific instrumentation), Beneficial Bio Ltd (a non-profit company setting up distribution and manufacturing channels for biological reagents in Africa and Latin America) and Biomakespace Ltd (a non-profit community laboratory where interested individuals and startups in Cambridge can engineer with biology, together).

Shuttleworth Research Fellow

Contact Details

Room 4.18, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Philippa Fawcett Drive
Email address: