Dr Charlotte Williams, CSIRO

Dr Charlotte Williams, CSIRO

Start Time: 
Tues 24/11/2020 - 10:00 AM
End Time: 
Tues 24/11/2020 - 11:00 AM

Dr Charlotte Williams
Industrial Biotechnology, Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform, CSIRO

Using Synthetic Biology to design chemo/bio synthetic routes for making high-value small molecules

WEHI Special Lecture hosted by Jack Alexandrovics


Within CSIRO, the Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (FSP) is positioning Australia to play a role in one of the fastest growing areas of modern science so that we can understand global developments and, where appropriate, contribute to advances in areas including manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, environmental remediation, biosecurity, agriculture and healthcare research.


Within the FSP stands an Industrial Biotechnology domain; projects within this domain deliver a Synthetic Biology capability delivering production innovations in the fibres and chemicals space.


An example of one of these projects uses synthetic biology to prepare enzymatic cascades immobilised into a continuous flow system to produce pharmaceutically active molecules from industrial feedstocks. Biocatalysis is an attractive route for the synthesis of complex organic molecules, such as pharmaceuticals, due to the properties of enzymes (high specificity and high catalytic rate). Use of enzymes in continuous-flow reactors can benefit from the advantages of continuous-flow chemistry (flexibility, control, product stream purity, low capital cost and improved yields). We have demonstrated that we can increase the efficiency of enzymatically catalysed, industrially-relevant processes, in continuous flow, by selectively immobilising the enzyme of interest to a high functioning surface in a flow system. This technology reaches to an existing need within industry to deliver high value products that might otherwise be unavailable by existing methods.

A synthetic chemist with a keen focus on synthetic biology, Dr Charlotte Williams leads the Bioconjugation Chemistry team within Biomedical Manufacturing and leads the Industrial Biotechnology domain within the Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform. Charlotte has been with CSIRO since 2009, and regularly engages with biotech and industry, working on commercial research contracts, and collaborating widely with Australian and International Universities. Areas of expertise cover synthetic chemistry and conjugation of small molecules, proteins and antibodies, polymer synthesis and polymer bioconjugation. Charlotte’s Bioconjugation Chemistry team focuses on the orthogonal conjugation of small molecule drugs or polymers to therapeutic proteins, such as antibodies or enzymes. The team seek’s to develop new theranostic agents, improve antibody-drug-conjugates, use polymer scaffolds as drug carriers, modify the pharmacokinetics of proteins, and develop new biocatalysts for the pharmaceutical industry. Charlotte gained a PhD in 2002 from The University of Western Australia, followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford, industrial experience followed at Johnson Matthey (UK) and Starpharma Ltd (Australia). The Industrial Biotechnology Application Domain sits at the interface of synthetic biology and chemical manufacturing technologies using synthetic biology to produce high value chemicals for industry, by finding new ways to make or utilise small molecules of high value for agriculture, health/pharma  and industrial feedstocks.


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Includes Q&A session