Darren Nesbeth

has been evicted! Thank you and goodbye!

Favourite Thing: Improve manufacture of medicines by re-designing host cells.



Groveland’s Primary, Hailsham, 1980-1985, St. Richard’s, Bexhill-on-Sea, 1985-1990, Eastbourne 6th Form College, 1990-1992


1992-1995, BSc. Molecular Biology, University College London, 1995-1999, PhD Molecular Cell Biology, Imperial College

Work History:

Mayhew Chicken, 1989-1995 (summers), McDonald’s Restaurant, 1990-1992 (while doing A-Levels), Buchanan Communications, 2000-2001, Kings College London, 2001-2004, Imperial College, 2004-2007, University College London, 2007-present


University College London

Current Job:

Lecturer, Synthetic and Molecular Biology

Me and my work

Re-designing cells to be mini-factories.

The next generation of medicines will be based on actual human proteins, DNA and cells. It is difficult to make these medicines in factories in the same way as old medicines such as aspirin. Because they are so complex they must be made in human cells, or sometimes bacteria or yeast.  In order to make mass-production of these new medicines cheaper and more environmentally friendly, I am re-designing living cells so that they are better suited to making medicines at industrial scales. 

My Typical Day

Office, lab, large-scale bio-reactors, repeat

Often starts with jogging to work. Shower, breakfast then check emails and my agenda for meetings and deadlines. As a new Lecturer I still have some lab projects of my own to manage, as well as managing student’s lab projects and teaching. Depending on the day I’ll then go to the lab and do some DNA-based work. I use DNA to ‘re-programme’ cells to do certain things or behave in a certain way. My university also has a special building where they have the same large scale machines used by pharmaceutical businesses to manufacture medicines. After DNA work in the  lab I will check the progress of experiments using large-scale machinery to test other re-programmed cells I had made  earlier. 

I also collaborate with colleagues who are investigating how to ‘mimic’ how things work at large scale using ultra-small devices and sometimes even nano-technology.

Finally, I will also communicate with collaborators in the business world, letting them know how my research is going and also asking them what kind of research will be most valuable to them in the future.

To summarize: Cycle, Breakfast, Emails, DNA-lab, Large-scale Industrial Machinery, Small scale ‘mimics’, Chat with business collaborators, Cycle home. 

What I'd do with the money

Get an artist in to the lab.

I  coordinate my university’s involvement in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition held annually by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. The iGEM competition provides an opportunity to teams of university students to work over the summer on synthetic biology research projects. ‘Synthetic biology’ basically means using our knowledge of biology to make useful things, in the same way as we use our knowledge of silicon, plastic and metals to make useful things like computers.

This year I would love our team to collaborate with artists to find new ways of communicating synthetic biology to the general public. I will use the £500 to help my team do this and, who knows, even win iGEM 2010!!!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Good finisher, determined, laid-back

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Death slide.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

World peace, world wealth, world health

What did you want to be after you left school?


Were you ever in trouble at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Fly to Brasil

Tell us a joke.

Q: What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you? A: Nacho cheese.