Catherine Fan, Ph.D.

Catherine received her BS in Biological Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she participated in research projects involving biomaterials and biofuel production. Her interest in microbial organisms lead her to pursue a Masters in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and studied the hypermutation phenotype of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in relation to cystic fibrosis. Catherine recently completed a DPhil in Engineering Science (PhD) at the University of Oxford.  Her thesis involved the creation and characterization of minimal cells (chromosome-free bacterial cells) which were applied as synthesis and delivery agents for anti-cancer drugs.

It was due to these series of experiences that Catherine became interested in synthetic biology and the manipulation of microbes to solve challenges in the environment and medicine. This involves the biosynthesis of valuable molecules and biodegradation of environmental pollutants. The importance of genetics and evolution of microbial communities are becoming more apparent as we learn about their impacts on human and environmental health. For her postdoctoral work she intends to contribute to the endeavour of creating a cell from scratch. This international effort has the potential to expand our understanding of biology and give clues to the origins of life.

As a trained engineer as well as a scientist since her BSc, Dr Fan has experience in a few programming languages. She has an excellent ability to use and apply them for the analysis of large and complex data sets.